Dubai: An India-Pakistan cricket match - played at any time of the day, irrespective of whether it is a red, white or a tennis ball - there will be no dearth of ardent fans rooting for the teams.
The India-Pakistan match on Wednesday night, organised as part of the third edition of the 10PL, the ‘richest’ tennis ball cricket tournament being held at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, was watched by an enthusiastic crowd on the ground and 132,000 people on YouTube.
The clash of the rivals created the same atmosphere of the many India-Pakistan matches held here regularly during the Cricketers’ Benefit Fund Series in the 80’s and early 90’s. Both the teams were made up of the best tennis ball cricketers from both the countries.
Despite the match starting after 9pm and finishing only past midnight, the match was keenly followed in India and Pakistan despite it was nearly dawn for them.
Speaking to Gulf News, Abdul Latif Khan, who visualised this tournament, said: “Very few know that tennis ball cricket has a huge following and is tremendously popular. Some of the players have huge fan following for their skills. India’s Krishna Satpute is known as the Sachin Tendulkar of tennis ball cricket and has been praised by even international Test stars.”
Satpute, who plays the Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s trademark helicopter shot with ease, scored only 12 runs in this match and it was Thomas Dias who top scored with 25 runs and helped India post a challenging total. They then bowled out Pakistan for 41 runs in 8.5 overs to win the match by 45 runs.
Indian bowlers like Vishwajit Thakur and Ankur Singh - both of whom took three wickets each - are so much in demand that they now travel to many parts of India and even abroad and regularly play in Oman and Qatar, which hosts tennis ball tournaments. Satpute, who is in huge demand, has hit six sixes in an over thrice in tournaments and once hit a century in 28 balls in a Pune tournament.
As soon as India were restricted to 86 for five, the commentators kept receiving messages from Mumbai on fans offering huge rewards to win the match. “A Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Mumbai announced Rs 100,000 (Dh 5000 approx) to the Indian players. They are now expected to receive a lot of gifts in India for beating Pakistan. The response of this India-Pakistan match has been so much that I will stage this contest every year,” announced Latif Khan.
The ongoing 10PL is being contested by 16 teams with the final to be held on Friday at the Sharjah Stadium. Dwayne Bravo, the West Indies legendary allrounder who is the ambassador of this tournament, will give away the prizes.