Cricket craze hits N.Y. as fans take in rival teams Pakistan and India – Spectrum News NY1

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The much-anticipated match between rivals Pakistan and India, both powerhouse teams, resulted in a sold-out event on Long Island. It was a historic moment for the U.S. to be co-hosting the Cricket World Cup. And it was a chance to raise cricket’s profile in America.
“Indians and Pakistanis, both, they love their cricket [and are] really, really passionate about it,” said Ammar Javed, a Pakistani cricket fan. “Biggest rivalry, just supporting my team.”
“Cricket is like a religion in India," said Indian cricket fan Sharath Vurputoor. "We are always with the team, [whether they are] doing good [or] doing bad. “We always want to see India at the top.”
Cricket is the second-most popular sport in the world, with global appeal in South Asian countries, the West Indies, England, New Zealand and South Africa, to name a few. For many immigrant communities, cricket is a part of their culture. 
“I grew up watching cricket all the time when I was in India, so my daughter has never seen a live cricket game. So this is my opportunity to expose her to cricket,” said Dinesh Ganesan, who was taking his 9-year-old daughter, Maya, to the match. “I want her to be as passionate about it as I was.”
It was a chance to create lasting memories, including for a group of Team India fans who took the train from Penn Station to Citi Field for a watch party.
“We have been waiting for this match for a long time," said Archish Srinivasan. "It’s nice to see it among a crowd. It’s nice to just cheer for your team, even though I’m wearing the wrong color."
India’s national team wears blue jerseys, while Pakistan and its supporters wear green jerseys 
“It’s the first time Pakistan has played in America, so I had to come out,” said Haaris Khan, who was attending the Citi Field watch party with his friends. “I’ve been following cricket since forever. Since I was a little kid. I think it’s a huge thing. It’s what we all rally around.”
Fans on both sides say they’re hopeful about cricket’s prospects in the U.S. as it continues to grow its footprint, beyond the South Asian diaspora.
“I feel like some of my white friends are now talking about cricket for the first time ever, and I see it on my Twitter, so I feel like it is slowly growing,” said Khan. “And the fact that the World Cup is in America, I’m sure will bring new eyes to this sport as well.”
Srinivasan agrees, saying, this World Cup match even got his coworkers talking, including one who was brought up here and didn’t know anything about cricket.  
“He was able to see that I’m excited that I’m going to this match," Srinivasan said. "So he wanted to know more. He wanted to teach his kids. So, it’s a lovely thing that U.S. is doing. I really hope that it catches on in the U.S.”
Die-hard cricket fans set aside any tensions that may exist from the bitter political rivalry between India and Pakistan to engage in cricket diplomacy.
Last year, a cricket match between India and Pakistan saw more than 400 million viewers tune in worldwide. That’s nearly three times the global audience for the Super Bowl.


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