Pakistani turns India fan after being denied entry into team hotel

Manchester: Muhammad drives a taxi for a living in Manchester, but just like any other Pakistani, his heart too beats for the game of cricket. In fact, such is his passion that he even plays club cricket on weekends and knows the Old Trafford ground inside out. But this edition of the World Cup has turned this die-hard Pakistan fan into an Indian supporter. The reason is the discipline of the Men in Blue.

Speaking to IANS, Muhammad said that it was on the eve of the game between India and Pakistan in Manchester during the group stages of the showpiece event that he became a fan of this Indian team.

“I have been driving for a while in this area and when I came to know that the Indian team was staying at the Radisson Blu, I happily walked up to the hotel thinking that my proximity with a few hotel staff would help me meet Kohli and some of the other stars. But my own friends put their hands up and said that the Indian team was not willing to be distracted ahead of the big game. Disappointed as I was, I realised what the game meant to them.

“I then went ahead to the Pakistan team hotel, even though I was certain that I would once again be asked to leave without getting a glimpse of the players. After all, they too wouldn’t wish to be distracted before such a crucial game. But to my surprise, they were all over the place and I could just walk in, meet and greet whoever. I have never been more disappointed at meeting my heroes,” he recollected.

Muhammad says June 15 made him realise why this Indian team is one of the best in world cricket. Coming to the game on Tuesday, the amateur cricketer said it was a clear case of winning the toss and batting first.

“At Old Trafford, you must win the toss and bat first if you want to win the game. I have played enough club cricket around here to know the conditions on offer,” he said.

Upset that Pakistan couldn’t make it to the knockout stages, Muhammad has decided to support Kohli and boys as he wants the trophy to stay in the subcontinent. While he can’t skip work on a Tuesday, he promises to listen to the commentary on radio.

By Baidurjo Bhose