All of a sudden the hotels are full. Restaurants have more Indian and Pakistani faces and Hindi is the language most audible in conversations. It is as if the whole of the Indian subcontinent has descended in Dubai for this marquee clash between India and Pakistan in the T20 World Cup 2021.
Ticket prices have skyrocketed and even if you are willing to pay top dollar, tickets aren’t available. It is expected to be a real spectacle and everyone wants to be a part of it and make a statement. It is an indication of how ‘revenge sports tourism’ in a post covid context is fast becoming the norm of the new normal and people starved of action are rushing out to consume and be a part of it. Companies are getting RT-PCR Tests done for visitors within hours, and all of a sudden, Dubai is the go to destination for everyone.
Coming to the match itself, India does go in with an advantage. They have better depth and if they play to their potential, they should be able to clinch this one. But the truth is when has an India vs Pakistan match worked on logic? Everything about this encounter is premised on the extraordinary. No reason ever works. It is the intensity of the contest that will define its outcome and whichever side manages to hold nerve should win the day.
While bowling and especially fast bowling is India’s weakness with Bhuvi not in the best of form, Pakistan’s middle order is certainly not the best going into the contest. In fact, it could well be a game of the middle overs and whichever team plays the best between overs 5-15 could eventually swing it their way.
As I write this with a few hours still to go for the match, I can see families getting ready in the hotel lobby with paint and flags and a lot more. Fan groups have come in specially for this match and the occasion will really help bring the World Cup alive. After a couple of damp squibs in the last two days, the tournament badly needs a recharge and there is no better occasion than Pakistan taking on India. Time for the umpires to call play.