Pakistan superfan living childhood dream after 11,000km travel to watch T20 World Cup

Jet-lagged and surviving on an average of four hours sleep, Mohsin Khan has been thrilled by his UAE odyssey, taking in 11 games in 10 days

To the supporters of England and Australia, it might have seemed an odd sight. A spectator wearing a Pakistan shirt and waving the green flag of that country, at a fixture between two total unrelated teams.

They might even have thought he had slept there the night before. After all, Pakistan had played Afghanistan the previous night at Dubai International Stadium.

And, for Mohsin Khan’s part, he would have been forgiven for not knowing what day of the week it was, or what game he was at, anyway.

The 38-year-old Pakistan fan arrived jet-lagged from his home in New Jersey. By the time he heads back stateside, he will have been to 11 T20 World Cup matches in the space of 10 days.

“I’ve had very little sleep, about four hours per day on average,” Mohsin said. “I’ve been meeting friends here who I grew up with, so it has been hectic.”

The fact that he has flown more than 11,000kms to get here for his World Cup odyssey is quite something. Especially given the fact he went to school around 1km from Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

He moved to the US to live with his brother when he was 14, while his parents stayed back in Sharjah. They only moved to join him in New Jersey last month, after 43 years in the Emirates, when his father retired from his job as a doctor.

“They came to the US, and I was flying out soon after to this tournament,” Mohsin said.

“[Father Mustafa Khan] had Covid last year, and ever since then he’s said, ‘Now I want to live with my grandkids’.”

Mohsin was lucky to have found a window in his schedule to attend the World Cup. As a district manager of 14 pharmacies in the New Jersey area, he has barely had a day off in the 11 months since the vaccine roll out started in the US.

He expects to be busy immediately on return – his flight is at 2.30am after Tuesday's evening match between Pakistan and Namibia – given America’s decision to start to administer vaccine shots to five to 11 year olds.

But he says he would not have missed his trip back to his childhood home for anything.

“When they announced it would be here because of Covid in India, I said, ‘I have to be there. This is my home town, it is the perfect time to come here’,” Mohsin said.

“I decided I didn’t just want to see Pakistan’s matches. I am a cricket lover, so I wanted to see as many games as I can. I have been doing some double-headers – one in Sharjah, then heading to Dubai.

“It has been hectic, and I am a little tired. I told my dad I was really tired, and he said, ‘Well, you love the game – enjoy it’.

“I’ve loved coming into the stadium, every single moment of it from when I see the field and the players. It is so cool.

“Today Jonny Bairstow waved back at us when we shouted to him. The other day it was Shoaib Malik. I’m living my childhood dreams.”

If Pakistan do make it to the final on November 14, he says he will do everything he can to get back here for it. But if that does not come to pass, he says he has already made memories for life.

“The Afghanistan-Pakistan game was crazy – surreal even – but the biggest excitement I had was when Pakistan played India,” Mohsin said.

“Nothing compares to that. For me, I’d say it was a historical moment. When I pass, I will be able to say I saw that one Pakistan-India game.

“The majority of people where I was were Indians. It felt like a nice homecoming. It has been a while since India and Pakistan played, and it was a really nice atmosphere.

“There was no animosity. We were all just having a really fun time. I hope they can continue to play as it is going to build relations, too.”

Updated: November 3rd 2021, 10:16 AM
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