Thatscricket - ODI Series - India~~s tour of Pakistan- Pakistan supporters celebrate win in Kashmir

Published: Monday, March 29, 2004, 20:17 [IST]
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Srinagar:Cricket fans exploded firecrackers overnight in Indian Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar to celebrate Pakistan's win over rival India in the second One-day International at Rawalpindi.

The bangs were heard in uptown Srinagar, home to about one million Kashmiris, mostly Muslims, minutes after Pakistani pacer Mohammed Sami bowled out Indian tailender Ashish Nehra to give his side a 12-run victory.

The win levelled the five match series, with India having won the opening One-day cliffhanger in Karachi on Saturday by five runs. Witnesses said supporters of the Pakistani cricketers lit firecrackers late at night when the streets in Srinagar are normally empty, save for members of the security forces.

"On any other day we would have taken the bursting of crackers as another suicide attack by militants," said Ghulam Ahmed, 68, in the Abi Guzar area of Srinagar, where two Muslim rebels last week launched a suicide attack on India's main information center.

"It was a well-deserved victory," said Imtiaz Ahmed, a self-confessed diehard fan of the Pakistani cricket team but at the same time also of India's batting sensation Sachin Tendulkar.

The Pakistani win disappointed those Kashmiris supporting India's cricketers. "This is poised to be a close series," said Ruksana Jabeen. "The Indian bowlers have to click if we want to win the series." "I am sure we will win the series," Jabeen added, while divulging that half her eight-member family supports the Pakistani cricketers.

Some of the Indian troops battling a 15 year anti-Indian insurgency in Kashmir, meanwhile, praised Tendulkar for his knock of 141, but said other batsmen did not click when it mattered.

"Had someone played a knock like Tendulkar we would have won," said Rakesh Kumar, a paramilitary soldier who watched the match in his camp. "Both sides are playing tremendous cricket and that is good," he said.

Residents of Jammu, the Hindu-majority winter capital of Kashmir, were also disappointed at India's defeat, maintaining a sombre silence after the loss -- in contrast to Saturday when they poured onto the streets to celebrate their team's victory by dancing and distributing sweets.

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