28 Sep World Cup 2023: Babar, Rizwan, Shaheen ‘overwhelmed’ by Indian welcome
- Pakistan team land in India to play ICC World Cup 2023.
- Players accorded warm welcome upon arrival at airport.
- Team will play their first warm-up match on Friday.
LAHORE: Top Pakistan players including skipper Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan and Shaheen Shah Afridi expressed gratitude for the response the team received upon arrival in India.
Men in Green arrived in Hyderabad on Wednesday under tight security ahead of the seven-week-long World Cup, their first visit to their neighbour since 2016.
Excited crowds, held back by officers, cheered and shouted the team captain’s name Babar Azam, as the Pakistanis arrived at the airport in the southern Indian city for the ODI tournament which opens on October 5.
In a message on his Instagram, the Pakistani skipper said, “overwhelmed with the love and support here in Hyderabad!”
On the other hand, star pacer Shaheen Afridi expressed his excitement about the welcome by posting a message on his social media stating: “Great welcome thus far!”
Moreover, Rizwan was “amazed” by the reception by the fans when they reached Hyderabad.
The two countries are bitter adversaries with longstanding political tensions.
The teams only play cricket against each other in international tournaments, and usually, the matches are staged in third countries.
The tournament involves 48 matches being played over 46 days at 10 different venues with the final set for November 19.
Pakistan are slated to play two warm-up matches — against New Zealand on September 29 and Australia on October 3 — both in Hyderabad.
But with large crowds expected for a Hindu festival on Friday, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said the first warm-up it will be a closed door match as “per the advice of the local security agencies”.
Pakistan open their World Cup campaign against the Netherlands, before facing arch-rivals India in the over 130,000-seat Ahmedabad Stadium on October 14.
India will begin their campaign against Australia on October 8 followed by the hotly-anticipated clash against Pakistan.
Visas for the Pakistan team to travel to India were issued on Monday, Indian and Pakistani media reported, just 48 hours before they were due to travel.
There has been no response from India to a request for comment on visa arrangements for Pakistan fans.