Nailbiter India-Pakistan T20: A Match Made in NYC, Viewed in Houston

More than 100 cricket enthusiasts in Houston gathered at the viewing party organized by the Open Forum radio talk show and catered at Indian Summer restaurant.

By Rugwed Damle

“Agar Gabbar ko koi hara Sakta hai to woh khud Gabbar”.

Another photo of the enthusiastic celebration of India’s victory against Pakistan. Photo by Vijay Pallod.

The iconic lines from Sholay went perfectly well for the Pakistan cricket team post the marquee clash at Nassau county cricket stadium in Long Island New York was the host India Pakistan World Cup clash on June 9 2024. The jampacked stadium was full with 34,028 fans seated in every corner of the stadium chanting with India or Pakistan.

Winning the toss Babar choose to bowl – a great toss to win. Rohit started with a bang scoring 8 in first over and than rain playing spoil sport twice. Are we even going to have a game? Said one of the journalists seeing the overcast conditions at the start of the day.

What started off as a stop-and-start match, turned out to be a bad start for India. With Kohli and Rohit going back in the pavilion in first two overs of the game. After which Rishabh Pant strung a partnership with Axar Patel to steady the ship when Naseem Shah bowled a beauty to dismiss Axar Patel

Things were sought to be have stabilized when wickets starting falling ina flurry for India with Pant, Dubey and Jadeja going in a pack under 6 runs. Arshdeep got to smell the leather with some fiery balls from Mohammed Amir who seemed to be on a hat trick ball dismissing Dubey and Jadeja but then got run out thanks to an amazing throw by Babar Azam. The final nail in the coffin was hammered by Haris Rauf who dismissed Pandya and Bumrah to bundle India for 119.

In the break Pakistan Zindabad was in full flow all over the ground. And the spirit amongst the fans in green seemed very high. The sun had come up nice and easy which was going to help things for Pakistan. The Pakistan innings started off to a flyer with Babar Azam and Rizwan looking rock solid. Even though they had only a 26-run partnership it set the tone for Pakistan innings. Things stabilized after 10 overs when Usman and Rizwan were batting.

But an arm ball from Axar beat Usman Khan and got his wicket to give India some hope. Fakhar Zaman came next in to bat and started off sweeping to Axar showing some confidence but after some blistering strokes found the edge on a Hardik Pandya bouncer to take the team score to 73-3 putting the middle order to do the fighting. In came Imad Wasim – a strategy stroke of sorts to come before Shadab Khan and Iftekhar Ahmed. And at that point everyone thought the match was firmly in Pakistan’s grip. But some horrendous shot selection by Rizwan Ahmed at a Bumrah incoming delivery threw Pakistan in a frenzy. No one knew what was the reason for such a careless shot, but I guess hindsight is 20-20.

After Rizwan’s wicket due to excruciating accurate bowling by Bumrah and Co. Pakistan were left with 18 to chase with Arshdeep Singh bowling the last over. And eventually lost the game by 6 runs against India. “This was Pakistan’s game to lose and they absolutely did,” one dejected Pakistani fan said. “We had come all the way from Toronto to watch our team and this is what they do to us every time. Although Bumrah did play very well and holds the key for India. And that’s why India deserved to win”.

But the real winner of the Cricket Clash was Nassau county &New York. On talking with County Executive Bruce Blakeman about the India Pakistan game he said – “It succeeded, my expectations. Remember the stadium is less than 120 days old. This is the kind of marketing and advertising that money can’t buy. It showcases what we can do here in Nassau County. We’ve had billionaires from all around the world here, who are loving our beaches, our golf courses, our museums, our restaurants, our shopping.. So, you don’t have to just go to Manhattan, you can stretch around here in Nassau County and hopefully you will buy something on the way home. Or at least fill your car with gas before you leave “.

If there was a Shark Tank pitching that needed to be done for the county, Mr Blakeman would do a fabulous job. So as the cliche goes in Cricket – win or lose Cricket is the real winner. In this instance, not just Cricket but also the City of New York was the real winner.

Special to Indo-American News