In this file photo taken on January 13, 2006 cricket fans hold Pakistani and Indian flags during the first day of their first Test match at the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore. Sparks generally fly when India take on Pakistan at cricket, and the September 19, 2018 Asia Cup clash in Dubai will be an emotionally charged fixture as always. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: For Indian and Pakistani cricket fans in the UAE, arch-rivals India and Pakistan playing each other in an Asia Cup game at Dubai International Stadium on Wednesday is the best thing to happen.

Most cricket fans from the two countries are hungry for more matches between the traditional rivals. Many feel cricket can reduce the tensions between the two nations and spread more camaraderie. Here’s what some of them say:

Anis Sajan

Managing director, Danube Group and mentor of India Indoor Cricket Team

Sajan feels that an India-Pakistan cricket match is huge not only for the fans, but also the players. He said that the two countries should play regularly, not just in ICC games and more importantly in Test matches like the Ashes series. “Cricket is like a religion in both countries and players are worshipped. Playing more game can bring the best out of a player and fans also get to see their stars more often,” he said.

Cricket, he added, can definitely bring both the nations closer as sports builds bridges. “The more India and Pakistan play each other, the more we can reduce the tensions between the fans, which is generally caused by the political rift,” Sajan said.

Sadia Abbasi

Pakistani journalist

The huge crowds that turn up for India-Pakistan matches in the UAE shows fans are ever-hungry for more such matches, she said.

“In the UAE, people don’t focus so much on being from one nationality or other, so the matches here are played in a very friendly atmosphere. I would say it’s a cultural event, not just a match, and the two countries should play bilateral series together,” Abbasi said.

Shyam Bhatia

Indian industrialist and cricket enthusiast

Bhatia, who owns a unique collection of cricket memorabilia, firmly believes that sports always brings people together and cricket can bring the arch-rivals closer.

“Sport has no boundaries and religion,” he said.

As for Indo-Pak matches, Bhatia feels there should be a regular exchange of games as per the ICC calendar.

Mohammad Rashid

Indian driver

Rashid is one of the hundreds of Indians who play cricket with Pakistani friends in the open grounds of the UAE.

He said the UAE hosting India-Pakistan matches is the best news for cricket fans like him. “I believe cricket is a medium through which both nations can get closer. The more they play together, the more intense the interaction of the fans will be, especially here.”

Zubair Ashraf

Pakistani PRO

Ashraf said there is a certain charm in watching an India-Pakistan match in the UAE. “It’s a carnival, not just a sporting event. In Dubai, people don’t label each other as ‘you’re Indian’ or ‘you’re Pakistani’ in a negative way. So when the two countries play together here, it only removes any cultural barriers further,” he said.

Tayyab Babar

Pakistani PR professional

‘India vs Pak’ is the only topic of all the discussions now, he said. “No other cricketing rivalry in the world can contend with the competition between India and Pakistan. In this part of the world, it is cricket that unites the two rival nations. It has always been considered as a barometer of the relations between the two countries,” he added.