Pakistan-India World Cup draws thousands of fans to Long Island despite rain

Thousands of cricket fans descended on Long Island Sunday to take in the biggest sports rivalry in the world — one that most New Yorkers might not be familiar with: India vs. Pakistan World Cup cricket.

Fans flooded the newly constructed Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Eisenhower Park — causing roughly 90 minutes of crawling traffic ahead of the match — but remained optimistic, cheering on their teams even after two rain delays put a damper on the competition.

Sunday’s match was by far the most highly anticipated of the T20 World Cup cricket games held in New York. It was a group-stage match between the global powerhouse teams, which could determine which teams advance to the knockout round.

Thousands of cricket fans descended on Long Island Sunday to watch the biggest cricket game of the year: India vs. Pakistan. AP

Recent Harvard graduates Kartikeya Bhatotia, 27, and Aashish Khullar, 37, both Indian nationals living in Boston, said they were thrilled to see the longstanding rivalry come to the US.

“[I’m] pretty excited,” Aashish told The Post. “Yeah, actually it’s kind of cool to come and see the stadium. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an international cricket game in a stadium.”

The pair bought opposing jerseys as they walked through the stadium’s nearly-full parking lot, with Kartikeya buying a green Pakistan jersey and Aashish buying an orange and blue Indian jersey.

“Even if it’s not about cricket, India v. Pakistan has always been a cultural thing so it’s nice to see it in person,” Kartikeya said.

There seemed to be a 90-10 split between fans, with India supporters far outnumbering those of Pakistan.

Kashif Sheriz, 49, flew to the Big Apple from the UK just to see the highly coveted match.

Fans of the sport came to New York from all across the globe. Stephen Yang

“We’re here to support Pakistan all the way from London,” Sheriz said, wearing a green Pakistan jersey he bought outside the stadium. “It’s going to be a tough match, it’s going to be a good match, it’s going to be an exciting match. But this is the team that’s going to win. Green all the way.”

Sheriz lauded Long Island — and the US — for welcoming cricket into the country with open arms.

On Thursday, the US team pulled off a shock victory over Pakistan.

There was reportedly a 90-10 split between India and Pakistan fans. Stephen Yang

[“It’s] amazing here. Good atmosphere. You guys are so hospitable and I hope the Americans take upon the people of cricket and I hope enjoy it as much as we and enjoy it,” he said, adding, “And America is doing well. America beat Pakistan, so, you know. Between the fans we don’t have any rivalry — it’s only on the pitch. When the game starts, that’s where it’s all going to kick in.”

Excited fans donned wigs, signs, flags and other merchandise in support of their teams, with many fans showing up bright and early to claim a spot in the parking lot — which an attendant said had met half-capacity by 8 a.m.

“F—ing crazy but it’s good stuff — good vibes,” a parking lot attendant told The Post.

Fans donned jerseys, wigs and signs supporting their favorite teams and players. Stephen Yang

Joe La Porta, 32, with girlfriend Yesha Vayda came from Albany to watch the match decked out in India jerseys.

“This is my first match…and [my girlfriend] she’s really into cricket,” La Porta said.

“I got myself into it since last year with the World Cup so I’m going to my first match here for T20. I’m really excited. We got lucky that we’re just a three-hour drive down here that we can actually go see something like this.”

“I haven’t been to a cricket match in 10 years,” Yesha said, adding that she was excited to see India team caption Rohit Sharma, who she says was her classmate in India.

“It’s going to be a great match. I think India is going to win for sure. Let’s go India.”

The India vs. Pakistan match, part of the 2024 ICC Men’s T20 tournament, follows a stunning U.S. win against Pakistan on Thursday.

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