Sunday, July 21, 2024

New York’s Long Island becomes cricket’s epicentre for a day


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New York, June 9: The Jolimont Station in Melbourne would have been bustling on such a Sunday or the walk from St John’s Woods to the Lord’s ground but Times Square doesn’t exactly give that vibe. But take a cab and travel down to the Long Island and suddenly a wave of blue is ready to greet you amid the dash of electric green jerseys.
As a cricket devotee, your sanity is restored as you can soak yourself into that heady feeling of the mother of all cricket rivalries — a lot of hype in the sub-continent, uncontrollable emotions on social media which is a beast and also the commercial vehicle that runs ICC’s carriage of global events.
For a Hyderabadi techie, the Gujarati businessman, Bengali academician and the Lahori restaurateur, indulging in once in lifetime experience by spending those hard-earned extra dollars didn’t matter. A Rohit Sharma pull-shot, a Virat Kohli cover-drive or a Shaheen Shah Afridi yorker is worth it.
For a day, the long and short of this T20 World Cup seemed to be dominated by Long Island’s Nassau County Cricket Stadium.
Undeterred by a light drizzle in the morning, thousands of cricket fans descended upon the newly-built stadium at Eisenhower Park, situated around 54 kilometers from New York’s Manhattan.
Traffic on the Grand Central Parkway, the highway connecting New York City with Long Island, was slow, and within miles of the stadium, most parking slots were nearing capacity at least a couple of hours before the game.
Furthermore, due to security reasons and multiple road closures, a lot of fans had to walk for a mile of two just to get into the stadium.
However, all these hurdles did not dampen the spirits of fans who travelled from all over the world to witness this epic encounter.
“We have spent around 3000 USD just to watch this epic game,” said Alekhaya, a data engineer from Dallas, who came to New York with her friend specifically for the India vs Pakistan match. “I know a lot of people who didn’t get tickets. So when we got hold of the tickets, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity at any cost.” Muhammed, a 20-year-old Pakistani student from Lahore who lives just a couple of miles from the Nassau stadium, did not manage to get a ticket.
“It is so disappointing for me. I have been tracking the ticket prices ever since they were available to the general public. I wanted to watch the game live from the stadium, but being a student, I cannot afford to buy those expensive tickets,” he told us.
There were fans at the stadium who drove for more than 10 hours to reach New York from Toronto to be a part of this historic game. A group of Pakistani supporters came all the way from Melbourne and Sydney.
It perhaps didn’t have the electric atmosphere at the MCG prior to the 2022 game but that didn’t stop a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf supporter to book a commercial one-seater plane and display a banner “Free Imran Khan” while hovering over the stadium.
The ICC doesn’t allow any political messaging on ground but in the air, all is fair in politics and cricket. (PTI)


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