Against the backdrop of the most eagerly awaited match of the World Cup for over one billion fans, it was banter season both on and off the pitch. India vs Pakistan matches are always a good time to track Twitter for memes and moments, and today’s match in Old Trafford was no exception.
You can see the excitement of fans just outside the stadium here, in videos captured by THE WEEK’s deputy chief of bureau (Delhi) Neeru Bhatia.
Part of the excitement has to do with the match happening at all — many fans were afraid that the characteristically overcast British weather might wash out this match, like it has so many others this season. Rain-related memes dominated the pre-match banter, with fans suggesting that a rainy outcome would favour Pakistan given that India has not lost a match so far in the World Cup.
As fans started streaming into the stadium, Bollywood music, a staple of Indian fans at Indo-Pak games, was everywhere. Some fans even arranged for a choreographed dance (make sure you watch the next clip to the very end for a dose of how seriously Indian fans take their dance).
One Pakistani fan, not to be outdone, showed up at the stadium on a white horse to greet his team and was subsequently featured by the ICC Twitter channel.
While fans of both teams largely got along at the venue, it is still better to play both sides when you are a celebrity. This is what Chris Gayle did, posting a photo of a custom-tailored suit he wore to the match — featuring the colours of both the Indian and Pakistani flags on either side.
Even politicians dived into the mix, with Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan taking some time out of his busy schedule to tweet advice to the Pakistani team. Imran’s government had just recently cleared a deal with the Asian Development Bank for $3.4 billion, rescuing the country from a balance of payments crisis, which might explain his exuberance.
4/5 1. In order ro have a winning offensive strategy Sarfaraz must go in with specialist batsmen and bowlers because "Raillu Kattas" rarely perform under pressure - especially the intense kind that will be generated today. 2. Unless pitch is damp, Sarfaraz must win the toss & bat— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) June 16, 2019
However, his team did not entirely heed the former cricketer’s advice — choosing instead to bowl first, allowing Indian openers Rohit Sharma and K.L. Rahul to smash India’s fastest opening century ever against Pakistan at a World Cup.
Indian MP Shashi Tharoor was quick to poke at Imran’s unsuccessful attempt to advise his team.
As the match progressed, India’s deadly batting line-up started to suggest that India would emerge the victors in this bout. Tasting victory, Indian memers were to quick to react.
However, by the 46th over, the weather forecast finally proved true — the match was washed out due to rain! Whether Pakistan will get their chance to make a comeback will depend on the weather. The final meme, for now, comes from the official ICC World Cup Twitter handle.