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Pakistan Cricket Team Welcomed Warmly in India

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In a heartwarming demonstration of sports diplomacy, the Pakistan Cricket Team was greeted by hundreds of Indian supporters upon their arrival at Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport. As the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 begins on October 5, the warm applause and loud chants illustrate the unifying power of sports despite decades of political tensions between the two nations.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) documented the arrival of its national team by posting videos to social media, capturing the excitement of Indian supporters waiting to see them. The Pakistani team marched through the terminal as fans waved their phones and called the players’ names.

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Outside the airport, the expressions of friendliness continued, with more incredible crowds of Indian fans awaiting the players along their route. The applause peaked as Pakistan’s skipper and top batter, Babar Azam, boarded the team’s bus and waved to the delighted spectators, acknowledging their support.

Babar Azam showed excitement before the team departed for India by saying he anticipated Indian supporters to support Pakistan throughout the competition. Azam said, “Most of our matches are sold out, indicating that Indian fans are eager to watch us and support players in the stadiums.”

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In sharp contrast to the political tensions that have limited cross-border tourism and bilateral cricket series, the warm reception in Hyderabad was greatly appreciated. Since their independence, Pakistan and India have been bitter enemies who have fought three wars and maintained a complicated political alliance. However, political divides haven’t stopped athletes from both countries from maintaining cordial ties.

Arshad Nadeem and Neeraj Chopra's embrace symbolizes the best sports diplomacy
Arshad Nadeem and Neeraj Chopra’s embrace symbolizes the best sports diplomacy

Virat Kohli’s enthusiastic conversations with Pakistani players and World Athletics Champion 2023 Neeraj Chopra’s embrace with Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem are just two examples of the moments of brotherhood between Indian and Pakistani athletes that have impressed the world.

The scenes of unity and support from Indian fans serve as an excellent description of the enduring power of sports diplomacy, fostering goodwill and camaraderie even in the face of political tensions, as Pakistan prepares to play their first pre-tournament warm-up match against New Zealand in Hyderabad on Friday. Their World Cup campaign begins on October 7 against the Netherlands at the same venue.

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