Captain Babar Azam (C) arrives with Pakistan's team at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad on Wednesday night. AFP
Excited crowds, held back by officers, cheered and shouted the team captain's name Babar Azam, as the Pakistanis arrived at the airport in the southern city of Hyderabad for the ODI World Cup, which opens on Oct.5.
The national team flew to India via Dubai and landed at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport. A video shared by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) showed the squad exiting the plane.
Confirming the development, the Press Trust of India said this is Pakistan’s first visit to the neighbouring country in seven years. The Green Shirts previously traveled to India in 2016 for the T20 world cup.
India and Pakistan are bitter adversaries with longstanding political tensions. The teams only play cricket against each other in international tournaments, and usually, the matches are staged in third countries.
Skipper Babar Azam has played down the hype of facing their rivals, saying ahead of their travel that the team was "not just going to play against India only."
The tournament involves 48 matches being played over 46 days at 10 different venues with the final set for Nov.19.
Pakistan is slated to play two warm-up matches — against New Zealand on Sept.29 and Australia on Oct.3 — both in Hyderabad.
But with large crowds expected for a Hindu festival on Friday, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said the first warm-up it will be a closed door match as "per the advice of the local security agencies."
Pakistan open their World Cup campaign against the Netherlands, before facing arch-rivals India in the over 130,000-seat Ahmedabad Stadium on Oct.14.
India will begin their campaign against Australia on Oct.8 followed by the hotly-anticipated clash against Pakistan. Visas for the Pakistan team to travel to India were issued on Monday, Indian and Pakistani media reported, just 48 hours before they were due to travel.
There has been no response from India to a request for comment on visa arrangements for Pakistan fans.
"Pakistan has consistently maintained that sports should not be mixed with politics,” Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement. "It has, therefore, decided to send its cricket team to India to participate in the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2023.”
Pakistan coach Grant Bradburn on Monday shrugged off claims his players haven't been paid for five months, insisting the squad was determined to rescue their faltering World Cup campaign.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka clash at the World Cup in Hyderabad on Tuesday, allowing Arthur the opportunity to renew his acquaintance with players he helped develop as coach between December 2019 to November 2021.
An array of talented stars will descend in Dubai during the course of this week in preparation for the 26th Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge (AHTC) that is scheduled to take place at the Habtoor Grand Resort in Dubai Marina.
The UAE Polo Federation has high hopes of being chosen as the host country for the 2026 Polo World Cup.
Considered as one of the largest chess events in the Arab world and Middle East, organized by Alef Group in cooperation with the Sharjah Cultural & Chess Club, began with the participation of more than 1,000 players from 25 countries and will continue till Dec.18.