Sea of Blue: 22 Players, 1 lakh Indians, 5 Pak Journalists, and Two Thriving Industries

2023 World Cup match between India and Pakistan

Ahmedabad, 14th Oct. As the bus passed through Usmanpura, a well-known soft drink brand’s electronic signboard creatively displayed the temperature: Ahmedabad City: 35 degrees, Motera: 37 degrees.

By 11 am on Saturday, all roads led to the Narendra Modi Stadium for the highly anticipated World Cup match between India and Pakistan.

The entire city was engulfed in blue, causing traffic to slow down significantly, if not come to a complete halt.

Ahmedabad has a peculiar situation where there was little pre-match buzz, yet tickets were reportedly sold-out months in advance.

On Saturday, it became clear that the majority of the people (over 100,000) present at the stadium were from outside the city, including many NRIs.

Fans from various cities such as Bangkok, Bengaluru, Singapore, Surat, and Detroit started arriving in Ahmedabad from Friday night.

The city was already in a festive mood with Navratri celebrations beginning on Sunday, and the emotional and patriotic fervor of an India match added to the excitement.

As Shaheen Shah Afridi and Babar Azam warmed up before the World Cup match between India and Pakistan, Shankar Mahadevan, Sunidhi Chauhan, and Arijit Singh sang Vande Mataram, creating an electrifying atmosphere.

Mahadevan performed Suno Ghaur se Duniyawaalon at the grand Motera stadium, and the crowd joined in the chorus.

The excitement reached its peak when Sachin Tendulkar walked out with the World Cup.

Dipak Shivratri, a surgeon from Bengaluru, and his two friends from the IT industry arrived in Ahmedabad on Friday night, having booked hotels at a premium price. Getting tickets online for World Cup match between India and Pakistan was nearly impossible. However, someone contacted me on social media, and we managed to buy three tickets for Rs 25,000 each, even though their original price was Rs 2,000. We wanted to watch the match, so we bought them, but not everyone can afford such high prices, he said.

Three youngsters from Surat mentioned that they received free tickets of World Cup match between India and Pakistan due to their political connections. We got them for free because of our connections, but in the last two days, the prices dropped significantly. Not everyone can afford to pay Rs 25,000 or 30,000 per ticket.

Additionally, no one buys just one ticket. Many people bargained and decided not to buy. If you were lucky, you could find tickets worth Rs 2,000 for Rs 5,000, but you needed to know the right people, he added.

The World Cup match between India and Pakistan created a mini-industry, with everyone profiting from the event.

Hotels charged higher rates, restaurants remained crowded on Friday evening, and even the airline industry benefited.

Two cottage industries also thrived in the lead-up to the Pakistan game

One was the black market for tickets, which has become more high-tech compared to the past. People who possessed tickets made huge profits.

The other cottage industry involved counterfeit India jerseys. In the past 10-12 years, during all ICC tournaments, there has never been a stadium filled with so many blue jerseys supporting the Indian team.

The original jerseys sponsored by the Indian team are expensive, and not everyone from the middle class can afford them.

So, the street vendors along the roads leading to the stadium sold counterfeit India jerseys, ranging from Rs 200 to 1,000, depending on the quality and bargaining skills.

Every roadside jersey seller made a profit and contributed to the counterfeit industry.

Amidst the chaos, five Pakistani journalists managed to arrive on time for the match. We traveled through the Wagah-Attari border and took a flight from Amritsar to Ahmedabad. We have been granted city-wise visas wherever Pakistan is playing, one of the senior journalists said.

Was obtaining the visa a problem? Well, we received it one day after submitting our passports.

With 22 players on the field, over 100,000 Indians, and five Pakistani journalists inside the stadium, the match that would shape the future of ODI cricket began.

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