THE eyes of as many as a billion sports fans were on Manchester yesterday as India and Pakistan resumed one of sport’s fiercest rivalries at the Cricket World Cup.
More than 700,000 applications had been received for tickets to the game at Lancashire’s Old Trafford cricket ground, which holds 26,000 people despite the addition of temporary stands.
An eager Pakistan supporter arrived riding a white horse and brandishing a flag, while thousands more gathered at the city’s fanzone to watch the game on big screens.
Manchester Airport was expecting ten private jets flying in from Asia this weekend, with touts being paid up to £2,500 for a ticket. A fifth were bought abroad by fans including Indian businessman Mukesh Ambani, who is Asia’s richest man with a £41billion fortune, and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.
It was the first game between the rival nations since Pakistani-based militants carried out a suicide attack that killed 40 Indian soldiers in February and led to a series of air strikes. India had won the previous five one-day internationals between the sides. Pakistan prime minister and former cricketer Imran Khan tweeted: ‘Give your best and fight till the last ball. Then accept whatever the result like true sportsmen.’