Pakistani pain at run-chase loss

Disappointment for fans in green as their team loses nail-biting cricket clash

A Pakistani cricket fan in Dubai's Palladium arena watches her team lose to India in last night's semifinal World Cup match.
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DUBAI // With disappointment etched on their faces, Pakistan fans blamed their loss to arch-rivals India on their key players not performing on the big occasion.

More than 1,000 cricket supporters, most of them attired in green, watched the game on giant screens set up inside the Palladium in Media City.

But once the Pakistan captain, Shahid Afridi, lost his wicket after a mistimed shot, fans feared the worst and began streaming out of the auditorium even before the final ball.

"It's very disappointing to lose such a big match, but we did well just to get this far, I guess," said Arsalan Warsi, a 34-year-old banker trying to put on a brave face after the defeat.

"The key moment for me was when Younis Khan got out - he needed to stick around for us to chase this target."

Mr Warsi, who was watching the game with friends, believed players like Afridi, all-rounder Abdul Razzaq and fast bowler Umar Gul were not at their best against India.

But others looked for the positives in the defeat.

"We knew before the game that India had the stronger side, but the battle was lost in our bowling," said Raza Hamid, 30. "I am disappointed but also proud that we got this far. But at the same time, 260 was gettable for us."

For 25-year-old Naveed Ali, a graphic designer, poor fielding let the side down. "We dropped Sachin Tendulkar four times. His runs were the ones that cost us in the end. It's really frustrating because our bowlers put us in good positions but the fielding let us down."

The atmosphere had been building for hours before the game, as Pakistan fans, draped in their national flag and faces painted green and white, chanted "Pakistan Zindabad" as they queued outside the venue.

Although heavily outnumbered, Indian fans, most of them wearing their team's strip or dressed in blue, also made their presence felt.

Supporters cheered every boundary hit and stood up to applaud bowlers who took wickets.

"I came here with about 20 of my Indian and Pakistani friends to watch the game," said Sadia Anwar, a 20-year-old Pakistani student from American University of Sharjah.

"It's been a fantastic atmosphere all day and I hope Pakistan win. If they don't I'll be disappointed, but it's only a game. No use taking these things too seriously."