Despite a 43 degree heat fans were streaming into the Dubai stadium arena anticipating a blockbuster Asia Cup matches between arch rivals Pakistan and India on Wednesday.
Cheers rang out throughout the arena as fans lined up for body search and inspection of their items in hand and bags.
The organizers had announced a sell-out days before the match but some fans were lucky to get tickets in black, paying 500 for 150 dirham tickets to enjoy a rare m,atch between the subcontinent rivals. The gates of the stadium were opened at 12noon local time and fans started to fill the 25,000 capacity stadium.
Amid the chants of slogans for their countries they sang respective national anthem and wishes for their teams.
“I bought a ticket at double the price but its money’s worth once you enter the stadium,” said Asif Khan, wearing traditional Pakistan green shirt. “I am a labour here and saved some money for this match. I am confident that Pakistan will win so I will shout slogans to encourage my players.”
But fans in Blue to support Rohit Sharma’s team have outnumbered Pakistan.
“I am from Mumbai but based in Dubai,” said Mohan Das, wearing the tri-colour Indian flag shirt. “It’s more than a cricket match so I bought the tickets online as soon as they were put on sale. Can’t miss and Indo-Pak match and I am looking forward to see India take revenge of the Champions trophy defeat of last year.”
Mohammad Salim travelled from Karachi without buying a ticket and had to run pillar to post before getting the reward.
“One of my friends had promised to buy a ticket so on his assurances I travelled but when I came here I found that there was no ticket so I had to struggle a lot before getting a ticket,” said Salim, sweating profusely.
“I now want Pakistan to win and Mohammad Amir get wickets.”
Cross-border couple Qasim and Ghazala have left their baby with in-laws to watch the match.
“It’s a rare occasion so we thought that we should not miss the game,” said Qasim, who hails from Mumbai and has a Pakistani wife who has keen interest in the game.
“I was myself a cricketer so I am thrilled to see a big match at the stadium,” said Ghazala. “I would like Fakhar Zaman to score a century but India should win.”