T20 World Cup: Sporting Harmony Unites Cricket-Starved Indian, Pak Expats in USA

T20 World Cup 2024: As cricket arrives in America, South Asian expats are reconnected with their cultural roots.

4 min read

The United States of America may be a powerhouse of global sports, but the ICC T20 World Cup 2024 is the first major international cricket competition being held in the fifty-state nation. The showpiece event has generated huge excitement among cricket fans worldwide, but within the USA, it is the large South Asian expatriate community who are the most delighted assemblage, with cricket being intertwined with culture in those regions.

As the World Cup kicks off, a visit to the newly-constructed Nassau Cricket Stadium in Long Island, New York, reveals that an overwhelming majority of the fans flocking are South Asian Expats. The stadium, boasting 34,000 seats, dominates the famous Eisenhower Park and will host half of the 16 games to be played in the USA, including the blockbuster clash between India and Pakistan on 9 June.

Given the long queues of people seeking entry to the Nassau stadium, we struck up a lively conversation with a group of South Asian Expats and within minutes, their deep yearning for cricket in baseball-crazy America was evident as everyone confirmed the international cricket event in the USA was the fulfilment of a long-standing wish. Their exuberance and joy were unmistakable since they were getting a chance to see the World Cup games right at their doorstep.

Simranjot Singh, who moved from Chandigarh to New York over 5 years ago, is an avid cricket fan. He confessed, “I’ve been fairly successful here but I sorely missed the game of cricket in the USA, since I used to play it regularly in India. Even watching cricket was difficult as hardly any top-class games were played here. I hope the World Cup will give us a treat of some great cricket battles.”

Similarly, Hasnain, who shifted from Lahore to New York, stated that his biggest regret after coming from Pakistan was the lack of live cricketing action.  As he stays close to Nassau Stadium, he has made elaborate plans for this World Cup and confides, “I am trying to witness all of the matches with my family.”

Congenial Fans Debate India-Pakistan Clash Over Biryani

The joy of the upcoming T20 World Cup is not restricted to Nassau Stadium alone. Moving to the Hicksville area, a predominantly South Asian locality about 5 kilometres from the stadium, we find the chatter in cafes and restaurants was full of cricket. Over mouthfuls of biryani, chaat or dosas, their conversations revolved around the World Cup games and their favourite cricketers. Almost all expatriates from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka seemed passionate about cricket and almost each one of them had a cricket-related aspect of their life to share.

Hailing from Hyderabad and now living in New York, Babar confides, “Besides my mother’s delightful cooking, it is cricket that I miss the most here.” Similarly, Meheer from Bangladesh recalls, “I was a decent batsman in school but after I left my country, I never got a chance to play cricket again. This World Cup will help satiate my hunger for top-quality cricket.”

Though the big India-Pakistan clash on 9 June is about a week away, it is already being hotly debated wherever a bunch of expatriates get together these days. Fortunately, the discussions seem free from the viciousness that India-Pakistan encounters often provoke in the subcontinent. Almost everyone has a special take on why the team they support will win the upcoming battle of the Asian giants.  

Tarun, hailing from the Indian capital. asserts, “India has a powerful and balanced team. In Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav, we have the most explosive batting lineup. And with Jasrpti Bumrah and the wily spinners around, India will definitely win as we always have done against Pakistan in World Cups.”

But Waqar from Karachi is quick to counter: “With Shahin Afridi and Haris Rauf around, our bowling is the most lethal in the tournament. And as Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman can score big, Pakistan has every chance to win.”


A Historic Occasion Which Strengthens USA’s Multi-Cultural Fabric

Beyond the banter and the bonhomie, however, there is a deep sense of satisfaction among the expatriates at the T20 World Cup being held in the USA. Cricket has traditionally been overshadowed by baseball, basketball and American football in the USA, but fans of the game feel cricket’s popularity will soar following this event.

For most South Asian expatriates, the event is also a recognition of their presence and influence in the USA. Most opine the T20 World Cup implies a ‘historic moment’ which they could not envision in the past.

Academician Aamir Reza of Lahore is frank; “When I first came to New York thirty years ago, I never imagined the USA hosting a cricket World Cup with an India-Pakistan match here in New York. It seems like a dream come true. This is a historic moment.”

Not only will the event provide a reconnection opportunity for South Asian expatriates with cultural roots and passion, but it also also strengthen unity in the multicultural fabric of the non-native population in the USA, wherein Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are seen enjoying the game in harmony.

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