Centurion (South Africa): Arch rivals India and Pakistan went into their high-profile World Cup match here on Saturday with a symbolic gesture aimed at keeping fans' emotions in check.Before play began at the packed SuperSport Park, players from both teams shook hands while the captains exchanged team ties on the field.The Group 'A' match is the first between India and Pakistan since June 2000 due to tensions over the disputed Kashmir region.
"It is a big occasion and since the players share very cordial relations, we thought we should greet each other on the field," Pakistan captain Waqar Younis said.The Indian government has severed cricketing ties with Pakistan in protest at Islamabad's alleged support to militancy in Kashmir.World Cup executive director Ali Bacher lauded both teams on the gesture.
"Cricket has once again demonstrated its power to bring together people of different cultures, religions and races," he said."We would like to congratulate both teams on their gesture to strengthen links between the two countries."The atmosphere was electric at the SuperSport Park with the Indian tri-colour outnumbering the green and white Pakistani flag.
"If the players can show such gestures, so can the respective governments. It will bring peace," said spectator Imtiaz Ali Khan, who flew in from Lahore especially to watch the game.Copyright AFP 2001