It is one of the most anticipated matches at the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka as Pakistan battles it out with India today.
Die-hard supporters of the Asian cricketing powerhouses here in Dubai are leaving no stone unturned in ensuring they are on hand to cheer their side to victory.
An approximate estimate puts Pakistanis in the UAE at about 1.2 million.
According to the Ministry for Overseas Indians, there are 1.3 million Indians employed in the UAE.
That's a lot of cricket fans. If anything, the early morning traffic was a clear pointer of how the evening will turn out. “Often it’s a nightmare to drive out after 7.30am, but it was a breeze today. Clearly, a lot of people have taken off to watch the match,” reported Reena Joseph, an Indian who lives in Al Nahda, Dubai.
“I felt it might be impossible to get leave because my other Indian friends would’ve applied for it as well, so I just called in sick,” confessed a Pakistani worker, who wished to remain unnamed for obvious reasons.
Even though, the match starts at 6pm, which fits perfectly into a normal Dubai work day, many supporters are unwilling to take a chance.
“I knew that I would make it in time, even if I didn’t take a day-off, but I just couldn’t concentrate on anything but the match,” added another Pakistani fan.
“I also knew the traffic after work would be crazy, and I couldn’t imagine being stuck in traffic when my country was playing their most important game.”
Another Pakistani supporter Sarah has got her family over from Saudi Arabia to cheer for their favourites.
“My brother-in-law has gone to work today but he will be back early, around 3pm, so that we can prepare for the match.”
“We’ve been reading a lot of articles and comparing player-to-player stats ahead of the game,” she added.
“Although I know that Pakistan has never beaten India in World T20 so far, I am hoping it will be today,” added Sarah.
The Indian side, for whom this match is a must-win, is equally optimistic.
“We have a good line-up of players, especially Virat Kohli who has shown great promise. Although Pakistan is a favourite to win, it won’t be an easy match,” says Ajay.
“If India loses today, they will be out of the T20, so this is going to be a huge game,” he added.
And, for some who aren’t fan of the game, the India-Pakistan match still appears thrilling. “I don’t watch cricket, but when there’s so much buzz around the India-Pakistan match then it’s tough not to watch it. It’s almost like a carnival,” explained Indian-born Anu.