An estimated 7,000 Indians came by buses, trains and planes and filled the stands along with many more thousand Pakistanis at the Gaddafi Stadium under a blazing, hot sun in this second biggest city of Pakistan, which is experiencing unusually high temperatures.
From the corridors of power came the Prime Minister's Principal Secretary and the National Security Advisor, Brajesh Mishra who has been deeply involved in the bold peace moves between India and Pakistan in recent months. He watched the match, but whether there was a political subtext to his visit remained a matter of conjecture. Keeping him company was India's High Commissioner in Islamabad, Shivshankar Menon.
The Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Ravi Shankar Prasad also flew across from Delhi to watch the tie.The names of several other Indian politicians also made the rounds. Everyone was so engrossed in cricket that there was no firm word on all the VIPs that had hopped across from India but the names mentioned were some of the biggest in Indian industry -- the Ambanis, Dhoots, the Godrejs and many more.
The NIIT chairman, Rajendra Pawar was in Lahore too to watch the game and hope that someday in the near future travel between the two countries would be much easier and his company could do business in Pakistan as it does in a large number of places in China.
Film star Sunil Shetty, who has acted in more than one Bollywood movie on Indo-Pak wars, such as 'Border' and 'The LOC', also watched the friendly battle on the cricket field. He has killed his quota of Pakistani armymen on celluloid but that has made no dent in his popularity, yet another signof growing maturity and friendship among the people.
Someone spread the rumour that the Bollywood beauty Aishwarya Rai would also be at hand to cheer the nation's cricket team and that set off a buzz with Pakistanis quizzing every Indian at hand for confirmation that was not available. While the VVIPs were ensconced in special boxes, it was the spirited non-VIPs from Amritsar, Surat, Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and scores of other places in India who was waving the tricolour from the stands baked in the hot sun. Keeping company were their Pakistani counterparts in the true spirit of friendship series.