Pakistan batter Shan Masood has called for more clashes against the country’s arch-rivals India after more than 90,000 fans flocked to the MCG to watch the thrilling T20 World Cup encounter.
Indian superstar Virat Kohli piloted his side to a stunning four-wicket victory on the last ball of the game, in a match that is being billed as ‘one of the greatest of all-time’.
The atmosphere was electric as 90,293 packed into Melbourne’s famous venue: a new stadium record for a cricket match not involving Australia, breaking the mark set at the 1992 World Cup final.
Masood, who held the Pakistan batting line-up together with a composed 52*(42), believes the two fierce rivals should do battle more often.
More than 90,000 Indian and Pakistani fans packed into the MCG for the former’s thrilling final-ball win
Shan Masood, pictured during his unbeaten innings of 52 against India, is desperate to see more matches between the arch rivals
‘It was my first taste of a World Cup game, of a Pakistan-India game, and I couldn’t be (more) grateful,’ he said after the match.
‘More than 90,000 people at the MCG – that shows how important Pakistan-India games are to cricket.
‘If we want to take this game forward, I personally feel that these are games that should happen more regularly and around the world.
‘It’s important for the development of the game that we see games like these, fiercely contested games that go down to the last over,’ said Masood.
The noise on ground level was deafening as the two teams slogged it out on the pitch.
Fans of both sides waved flags, danced, sung and many featured plenty of patriotic face paint and colourful outfits.
Famous Indian cricket fan Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary was covered in patriotic body paint for the occasion
The cricket boards and governments might not always get on, but this pair of Indian and Pakistani fans were having a blast together at the cricket
Contrast that with the subdued 34,756 fans who watched Australia capitulate to New Zealand at the SCG on Saturday night.
The India-Pakistan cricket rivalry is one of the most intense in the world of any sporting code – hence the incredible fan numbers and atmosphere.
The two neighbours have often had bitter diplomatic relations since the countries became two after the division of British India in the 1940s; with a number of wars and conflicts following since.
And it’s had a huge impact on cricket scheduling.
Matchwinner Virat Kohli (right) shakes hands with Pakistan’s Shadab Khan after the two sides played in what is being billed as one of the greatest T20 matches of all time
They’ve clashed just 12 times in T20 International cricket and 59 in Tests, and are almost always forced to do so at a neutral venue with little atmosphere; like the United Arab Emirates.
After 90,293 were on hand to watch Sunday night’s thriller, it’s fair to say there would be plenty of interest in more contests.
If you ask Indian legend Ravi Shastri, the rivalry would sell out any destination or any size almost anywhere in the world.
‘It would sell out every day (in Australia), just as it would sell out Lord’s, The Oval and Edgbaston,’ he told AAP prior to India’s win.
‘(But) at the end of the day the decision will come from the high command in both countries.
‘If the ‘G had a capacity of 150,000, there wouldn’t have been a seat available – that is the magnitude of this contest.
‘Guys in India and the sub-continent say it is the big daddy of all games,’ said Shastri.
Unfortunately for the millions – if not billions – of cricket fans across the two countries, it isn’t as easy as just scheduling more matches.
Even if they are played on neutral territory.
The famously political cricket boards were bickering prior to the T20 World Cup about next year’s Asia Cup and ODI World Cup – and it is often many months of negotiations just to get one tournament player.