Exclusive: Pakistan's 'Chacha Cricket' Appeals For Visa To Watch World Cup In India

(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Thu 28 Sep 2023, 12:38 AM

Just over a year ago, Abdul Jalil braved the sweltering heat in Dubai to do what he has been doing for more than five decades across the world - waving the Pakistani flag and cheering for his team in every match.

During the India-Pakistan Asia Cup clash last year at the Dubai International Stadium, the 73-year-old Jalil was the cynosure of all eyes once again.

Popularly known as 'Chacha Cricket' (cricket uncle), the bearded man was hugged by Indian fans as he smiled and posed with them.

“I have probably been photographed more than most famous cricketers in the world,” Jalil had told Khaleej Times just before the start of the Asia Cup match in Dubai last year.

Across formats, Jalil has watched 50 matches between cricket's most famous rivals.

He still gets goosebumps when he speaks of the joy of watching Javed Miandad's iconic last-ball six against India at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in 1986.

It was the first of the 50 India-Pakistan cricket matches Jalil has watched live.

But now this iconic fan could be deprived of a chance to be part of the greatest cricket carnival, thanks to the political tensions between India and Pakistan, the two nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours.

According to a report in Dawn, scores of Pakistani fans have found the online application portal for Indian visas 'unresponsive'.

While the Pakistan team finally landed in India on Wednesday after a long visa delay, Babar Azam's men face the prospect of playing the World Cup (October 5-November 19) without any of their fans cheering for them from the stands.

But Jalil, 73, the best cheerleader in cricket history, is still hoping to be in Ahmedabad when cricket's biggest rivals lock horns on October 14.

"It's the cricket World Cup and we want to go to India and support our team," Jalil told the Khaleej Times over the phone from Pakistan on Wednesday.

"I just returned from the US. I haven't applied for the visa yet, but from what I have heard from people and friends, no Pakistani fan has got the Indian visa for the World Cup."

The septuagenarian cricket fan, though, is not going to give up on his World Cup dreams easily.

"If needed, I will approach the Pakistan Cricket Board and the relevant government authorities to help me," said Jalil, who first travelled to India as a cricket fan in 1999.

"I have beautiful memories from my India trips. They knew me and they were very happy to see me in their country. I have my own style of cheering for my team and waving the Pakistan flag. The people in India loved that.

"In fact, I have received the same love from Indian fans across the world. I think more Indian fans have taken pictures with me than Pakistani fans.

"They have never looked at me as a Muslim or as Pakistani. They just looked at me as a cricket fan who would go anywhere to support his team.

"And now I want to go to India again for the World Cup. I would like to appeal to the Indian cricket board and the Indian government to allow Pakistani fans to visit India for the World Cup. I hope my voice reaches them!"


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