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Thatscricket - ODI Series - India~~s tour of Pakistan- Indian troops ecstatic, despondency in Pak camp

Published: Tuesday, March 30, 2004, 0:33 [IST]
 
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Srinagar:Indian troops stationed in disputed Kashmir rejoiced over their country's close-fought cricket win over Pakistan but many in the insurgency-torn province were left disappointed after a match packed with suspense.

"The game of cricket has won, not India or Pakistan," said Prakash Singh, an Indian paramilitary soldier who watched the match alongside three dozen Kashmiris -- most of them Pakistan supporters -- outside a shop that sells televisions.

"I have never watched such a close match before," he said of India's five run victory over Pakistan, which came close to chasing a target of 350.

"But it is a good feeling that our boys have won," he said.

As in other parts of India and Pakistan, which both control parts of Kashmir, the Indian side's summer capital Srinagar was deserted on Saturday as residents stayed inside to watch the match.

Manoj Kumar, a soldier from the Indian state of Maharashtra, listened to the cricket commentary all day from inside his bunker.

"The first match was a treat and the crowd behaviour was exemplary," said Kumar, as his colleagues nodded in agreement. "This indicates people want peace between the two countries."

But as the troops -- who are mostly from outside Kashmir -- celebrated, many Kashmiris who had been cheering at every shot of the Pakistani batsmen walked away distraught when the match ended.

"It is a big disappointment that they could not hold onto their nerves in the end," said Inthikhab Alam, an engineer.

Alam and his friends had arranged a generator to watch the match as the power is cut off for seven hours each day in Srinagar.

Many were seen cursing Moin Khan for not being able to hit nine runs in the ultimate over of Ashish Nehra.

"He (Moin) has grown old. He should retire now," said Imtiaz Hussain, a shopkeeper, who said he did not have any customers on Saturday.

If supporters of the rival teams agreed on one thing, it was that India's first full Test tour of Pakistan in 14 years would be exciting.

"It was a great day for cricket. Both teams shared equal honours," said Aasiya Jabeen, a university student.

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