In a series of tweets, Pakistani journalist Mir Shabbar Ali shared his extraordinary experience covering the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 in India, marking his first venture into international sports journalism.
Ali’s journey began with a surprise call and an impromptu flight to Islamabad, where he, along with fellow accredited Pakistani journalists, obtained Indian visas just 48 hours before the high-stakes India-Pakistan clash in Ahmedabad. Crossing into India through the Wagah-Attari border, Ali marveled at the significance of a mere step separating two nations, reflecting on childhood memories.
A jovial Sardar Jee drove the group to the Amritsar airport, setting the stage for Ali’s exhilarating adventure. Despite the tension surrounding the India-Pakistan match, Ali sensed the unmatched happiness and electric atmosphere as he entered Ahmedabad’s Modi Stadium.
After relishing a delightful breakfast of Maska Bun and Karak Chai, Ali’s journey truly commenced in Bangalore, where he immersed himself in the vibrant Indian culture. Taking a day to explore the city, Ali witnessed Pakistan’s training session at the iconic M. Chinnaswamy Stadium and interviewed Mohammad Nawaz.
In Bangalore, Ali’s encounters ranged from an interview with India’s 1983 World Cup-winning wicket-keeper Syed Kirmani to understanding the city’s deep connection with cricket. Despite Pakistan’s disappointment against Australia, Ali captured the matchday fervor, describing the crowded ticket booths and metro stations filled with cricket enthusiasts.
The next leg of Ali’s journey took him to Chennai, a city with personal significance as his ancestral home. Traversing the country on the Vande Bharat Express, Ali soaked in the experience of being in a place he had only heard stories about. In Chennai, he formed a deep connection with the city, meeting an amiable journalist, Bhargav, and enjoying the hospitality of the Chepauk stadium.
Despite Pakistan’s setbacks in Chennai, Ali’s enthusiasm remained undeterred. He proceeded to Kolkata, experiencing the historic charm of Eden Gardens and witnessing Pakistan’s breakthrough victory against Bangladesh, ending their losing streak.
Mir Shabbar Ali’s chronicles not only capture the highs and lows of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 but also reflect the unique and profound experiences that sports journalism can offer on an international stage. This is especially true for a scribe traveling to a neighboring country, where opportunities to visit are rare, and where he gets to explore his ancestral roots, adding an extra layer of personal significance to his journey.
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