30 hours in Mohali !!! By Sana Kazmi.


Chief Minister (5k+ posts)
30 hours in Mohali
Dosti pictures, gracious hosts and cold samosas -- everything to expect from a one in a lifetime experience: an India-Pakistan World Cup semi-final
By Sana Kazmi
Just before the India-Pakistan semi-final, Ravi Shastri had said that all roads in Chandigarh led to Mohali. Thats why there were no signals when we reached Chandigarh -- our taxi-driver from the Wagah-Attari border was definitely lost. It was quite a contrast from the match-towns in Sri Lanka (Kandy and Colombo) where you just couldnt miss those life-size posters of
Sangakkara or Afridi.

However the electrifying atmosphere at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, made up for everything. The gates were half-a-mile trek from the makeshift parking area; we kept losing our flip-flops in the sand, but we didnt slow down. We knew every cheer from the stadium signalled an Indian boundary (and there were many in the third Umar Gul over). No doubt the boys needed us in the stadium.
The policewoman at the final entry check didnt give us too much trouble but refused to let the bulbuls (slang for the girls from Pakistan) through unless we gave her some Pakistani change as a souvenir. We gave her a shiny purple 50-rupee note and we were in.
We couldnt believe we had made it to Mohali. Our stand -- the PCA Members and Associates stand had a section full of Pakistanis, but there wasnt a single vacant seat in sight. The sun was burning down and there was no shade; luckily I had brought my floppy hat, the one that is no longer worn in ODIs. Finally we got to a place on the stairs just next to a group of girls in Boom Boom jerseys -- who were reciting a prayer non-stop
The Indian flags outscored the people in the stadium and it was Sehwag who just outscored our best bowler.

Chacha Cricket and his Indian counterpart in a tri-colour turban were a few rows ahead of us. They posed for numerous dosti photos and were constantly engaged in a side-match of their own with a group of young men in the neighbouring stand -- who more interested in interacting with our stand than the match. It kind of reminded me of watching a match from the Ladies stand in Karachi! The chachas got annoying after a while because they kept blocking our view after almost every scoring shot. But the dancing turbans made the game enjoyable; they sang in Punjabi and danced non-stop.
And then came the twist. It was Wahab Riazs second spell, his two wickets in two balls completely silenced some 28,000 Indian supporters and it was a few hundred Pakistani voices that took control for a while. And they cheered him with a special slogan, "Nahi karta kisi ka lehaaz, Wahab Riaz, Wahab Riaz!"
Riaz was bucked up when he came back to field at long on (right next to our stand) after his incredible match-changing over. His confident yet humble wave back to acknowledge the applause won our hearts!
It felt like there hadnt been an Indian boundary for ages; we were high-fiving random Pakistani uncles (one of whom turned out to be Shahid Afridis chacha) and even the dancing hecklers from the stand next door took a break, shoulders slumped --
Pakistan were on top.

Venturing out to get food in the innings break was a bit of a nightmare. There was no cold water or drinks and there was nothing left to eat except ice cream and aalu cutlets. I found out later that the VIP boxes hosting Prime Minister Gilani also ran out of tea, so I guess they just werent prepared for the number of people that showed up. Almost got stampeded on the way back but managed to bring in some warm mountain dew (yuck) and cold samosas. The "Pakistani stand" had a warm, hospitable, "awami" feel to it -- between overs, someone would go get a box full of choc-bars or half a dozen coffees and just distribute them, so we didnt stay hungry/thirsty for long.
Unfortunately, the Wahab dominance didnt carry through to the Pakistani innings. Im sure Im not the only one who always gets nervous when we bat, even before the first wicket falls. While Asad Shafiq was batting, many around me were sceptical of Pakistans win. Many in our stand started leaving when Umar Akmal got out, and were almost all gone by the time Wahab fell.
Still. There were still a few of us laughing and chanting in the powerplay overs, "You can do it Misbah! do it for your average."

The Indian fans were gracious hosts after their win. As we stood near the exit, waiting for the crowd to clear out before we left the stadium, tens of locals walked up to us for a friendly handshake or a chat or a photograph. A few even apologised for winning, and one decidedly confused guy actually told us we had been the better team, ha!
Everyone thanked us for making the trip to India, which doesnt sound like much but felt really good to hear. My fondest memory of Mohali was listening to a Arif Lohar-Meesha Shafis Jugni from Coke Studio being played in a car outside a Subway near the team hotel where we stopped for dinner before driving back to the border.
In retrospect, it definitely made me feel less broken about losing to India than watching Aamir Sohails bitter post-match analysis on TV.
The writer is a wannabe social entrepreneur who tweets about cricket every waking hour(http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/apr2011-weekly/nos-10-04-2011/foo.htm#1)


Politcal Worker (100+ posts)
thx for sharing canadian... its such a feel good article. I hope we have matches with each other like this all the time. dosti zindabad


Chief Minister (5k+ posts)
Well we are from the "land of the pure" so accept defeat with dignity as Afridi proved!(clap)