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Hit Pakistani cricket show wins hearts in India


A long-simmering rivalry on and off the field once again divided India and Pakistan at the World Cup, but a cricket show put on by the Pakistani elite won the game its fans across the border.

The Pavilion, featuring cricketing heroes turned broadcasters including Wasim Akram, Shoaib Malik, Misbah-ul-Haq and Moin Khan, has been a hit in India for what fans say is its unbiased and engaging commentary.

“They give sharp analysis at the forefront,” said Shubhanan Nair, 32, in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, who said watching the program online was part of his “daily ritual”.

“They will talk about what went wrong with every team, including their own team … they also understand whatever team did well.”

Neighbors India and Pakistan share deep cultural and linguistic ties but their histories are marred by violence and bloodshed.

The two nuclear armed nations have fought three wars since the partition of the subcontinent in 1947. but nothing personal, everything must be professional and positive.”

Launched for the 2021 T20 World Cup in the UAE, the show enjoyed viewing figures across all platforms of around 130 million – until the one-day World Cup opened last month in India.

Akram said the numbers were now “almost double”.

“It’s just four or five of us talking, no science … it’s pretty hard work,” he said.

“But sitting together, enjoying each other’s company, it’s very fun – and I think that’s what people see.”

– ‘Love from India’ –

Akram said he was happy that the show was reaching a wider audience and admitted that he was surprised by its popularity across borders.

“We respect each other, we share jokes, we enjoy each other’s company… if our show can tell people that at the end of the day it’s just a game, that’s nice.

“If you are Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan – everyone is patriotic about their country,” he said.

“We leave that and just talk about good things today, be nice to each other, respect each other.

“If our show is making that impact, then we’re over the moon.”

India, who will compete in Sunday’s final against Australia, defeated Pakistan in the only match they played against each other at this World Cup.

The clash took place in front of a partisan home crowd when Pakistani fans were unable to obtain visas from Indian authorities.

Any meeting between the rivals is watched by millions around the globe and is a win-win for broadcasters and sponsors.

But Pakistan crashed out of the World Cup on Saturday, failing to reach the semi-finals with five wins and four defeats.

“At this World Cup, Pakistan will be remembered mostly for the Pavilion on A Sports,” wrote a fan of Abhishek Mukherjee on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

On his YouTube channel, the comments below show the program how sport can bring other competitors together.

“We wish we had a show like this in India… love from India,” said one.

From Pakistan, another watcher joined in, wishing India all the best in the final.

“Hope India win this World Cup…love from Lahore,” wrote a user named izzkii.

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