Friendship bonds India-Pakistan fans despite rivalry | The Daily Star
03:23 PM, June 16, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:28 PM, June 16, 2019

Friendship bonds India-Pakistan fans despite rivalry

India and Pakistan may be preparing for a high-stakes World Cup match on Sunday but one Pakistan supporter made sure an Indian super-fan does not miss out on the occasion.

Sudhir Kumar has become a cult hero in India for painting his body in the colours of the Indian flag and his devotion to the now-retired Sachin Tendulkar, whose name he sports across his chest.

"I called Sudhir from Chicago, USA, asking him what support he wanted," Pakistan-supporting Mohammad Basheer Buzai, 63, told AFP.

"My wife is from Hyderabad Deccan so I have to support both, Pakistan for myself and India for my wife.

"I got Sudhir an air ticket and a mobile phone so that he can save his World Cup memories."

Former Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni may have millions of fans, but Basheer takes pride in his links to Dhoni, who arranges match tickets for him.

"It was during the 2011 World Cup in India that Dhoni gave me a ticket and since then he arranges my ticket. When the team came to Manchester he promised that I will get Sunday's ticket," said Basheer.

Sudhir, 38, from Muzaffarpur in the northern state of Bihar, said: "Basheer is always a great help."

But he teases Basheer about India's dominance over Pakistan at World Cups, with India having won all six previous meetings.

"Pakistan cannot beat India in a World Cup match," said Sudhir. "Off the field we are good friends but on the field we are fierce rivals and will not spare the Pakistan team."

Basheer hopes the bond remains, irrespective of the result on Sunday at Old Trafford.

"We come to the ground together, sit together in the stand and chant slogans... but at the end of the day it's the love we share that counts," he said.

"I hope both the countries come closer and cricket has that power to bring people closer."

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