Mohammad Anees’s desire to watch Friday’s World Cup quarter-final between Pakistan and Australia at the Adelaide Oval may cost him his job, but he insists cricket comes first.
The manager of the local Indian restaurant where the 33-year-old works had warned him not to bunk duty on Friday but the man from Lahore took the risk.
“A World Cup quarter-final, involving Pakistan and in my adopted city, is impossible to ignore,” said Anees, while waving the green Pakistan flag.
“I can leave the job but I can’t leave the match and I told my manager that in the morning.”
Murtaza Jamal echoed the same feelings.
“It’s a big match so we left all what we had to do and came in numbers to support our team,” said Jamal, a doctor in Melbourne.
“We are here to see Pakistan win so that we can go to Sydney for the semi-final and my God it would be the biggest match — a mouth watering Pakistan v India.”
India qualified for the March 26 semi-final at Sydney after beating Bangladesh in the quarter-final on Thursday.
New Zealand play the West Indies in the last quarter-final in Wellington on Saturday to decide who meets South Africa in the first semi-final in Auckland on March 24.
Pakistan fan Haji Basheer flew from Melbourne early Friday to cheer his team.
“I back India because my wife is from Hyderabad Deccan in India and I love Dhoni,” said Basheer, referring to the Indian captain.
“It would be tough for me who to support if the semi-final is between India and Pakistan. I will have to change my seat at the SCG after every ten minutes.”
Murtaza Ali has come from all the way to Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.
“It was a long journey but once I saw Pakistan qualifying for the quarter-finals, I packed my bag and couldn’t resist coming to Adelaide,” said Ali.
Yaqoob Bhatti was dancing to the high-pitched music outside the stadium.
“It’s a festival of cricket and love,” said Bhatti, who was wearing a coat, trousers and hat — all in Pakistan green.
“We are here to tell the Aussies that the Cup is ours, just like in 1992.”
Patrick and Martina Julian were wearing yellow Australian jerseys in support of their team.
“It’s for Australia to lose,” said Patrick. “But I don’t think it will be a cake-walk for us because Pakistan is a dangerous team.”
Alex and his two sons painted their faces in yellow to support Australia.
“Australia will be champions,” they screamed. “Ours is the best team and we will be better on and off the field against Pakistan,” said Alex, referring to the competition in the stands with Pakistan fans.
For David and Courtney Bruce and their daughter Meredith any winner is acceptable.
“We have come from London and have Pakistani neighbours so we are happy whoever wins,” said Bruce, whose daughter was exchanging high-fives with Pakistani boys. AFP