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Photos: India and Pakistan fans bring the biggest cricket party to the US



India and Pakistan cricket fans gathered in New York in their thousands for the ICC T20 World Cup clash between the two nations, bringing a flavour of the subcontinent to unfamiliar terrain for the sport.

The 34,000-seat temporary Nassau County International Cricket Stadium built in Eisenhower Park, in East Meadow on Long Island, was a sellout with fans travelling from far and wide for the game on Sunday.

The USA is co-hosting the T20 World Cup with the West Indies with Lauderhill in South Florida and Dallas, also hosting games.

This fixture is the marquee game of the group stage of the competition bringing the two rivals face to face in a game which resonates well beyond cricket.

Political tensions and security concerns mean that the two rarely meet outside of major competitions but there was no hint of such issues among the fans, who were in a festive mood despite the rain which caused a delay to the start.

For members of the Indian community in the United States, the tournament offers a rare chance to watch their heroes in the flesh rather than on internet streams.

“It’s in our backyard, so there is nothing like it, this is the first time we have had the chance to experience cricket. We are lucky to have this amazing ground built just for this event,” said Kumar Mathuria from New York.

“There are lots of cricket fans in this area but I have also met people who have flown in from India and other places overseas for this game. It’s unbelievable,” he added.

On the crowded streets around the venue, traders sold jerseys of both teams, while Pakistan fans waved their national flag out of the tops of SUVs.

Pakistan supporter Eswar Malik had flown from Saint Louis for the game and said the rivalry was one that Americans now understood.

“It’s an old rivalry – its like the Yankees-Red Sox or Saint Louis and Chicago – an old rivalry that goes on and on,” he said.

This is the fifth game to be held at the venue but by far the highest profile and likely to be the only one which will sell out the stadium.

That was evident in the long lines for security and the confusion around the parking areas.

Secondary market tickets were still available on various apps but any last minute purchasers would have to be ready to spend over $1,500 for a general admission ticket.

Inside the stadium, the ‘New York’ signage was the only reminder of where the game was being played with the music and pre-game build-up clearly designed for the fans of the two countries.

There was a huge roar when former Indian great Sachin Tendulkar was introduced to the crowd as part of the pre-game interviews.

Siddarth Kadavarthi had driven 10 hours from North Carolina to attend the game and said the chance to see Indian greats Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, in what may be their last tournament, was something he couldn’t miss.

“They are absolute legends of Indian cricket, of the game itself and we might never get to see them in a game like this again, so although it was a 20-hour round-trip drive, I wasn’t going to miss it,” he said.

A beaming Mutharia had less specific motivation for his presence.

“This is simply one of the biggest events in sports”

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