New York prepares for India-Pakistan T20 World Cup ‘Super Bowl on steroids’

India coach Rahul Dravid (left) will hope that captain Rohit Sharma (right) and his team can give him a fitting farewell at the T20 World Cup. Photo: Reuters

India coach Rahul Dravid (left) will hope that captain Rohit Sharma (right) and his team can give him a fitting farewell at the T20 World Cup. Photo: Reuters

Published Jun 7, 2024


New York officials are preparing for the “Super Bowl on steroids” as thousands descend upon Nassau County for the clash of arch-rivals India and Pakistan in the group stage of the T20 World Cup on Sunday.

The two sides form one of the most intense rivalries in sport and the temporary, 34 000-seat stadium in East Meadow, New York, will be bursting at the seams, with millions more watching on TV.

“India v Pakistan is like the Super Bowl on steroids. We had no idea how huge it was,” Nassau County executive Bruce Blakeman said. “We want to put our best foot forward.”

That has meant an extraordinary safety effort, with security personnel from every level in the region working in conjunction in the county, which sits adjacent to New York City.

New York state governor Kathy Hochul said last week that there will be increased security for the World Cup, after reported threats, including those specifically related to the India-Pakistan fixture.

“I found her remarks refreshing,” said Blakeman. “I’m very confident that this is a safe environment – if it wasn’t, then I wouldn’t hold it.”

The two sides have not played a test since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and the least expensive ticket available for Sunday’s match was $790 on ticket resale website StubHub, as of Monday afternoon.

Operations appeared to go smoothly on Monday, and security blanketed the stadium in New York as it hosted the first of eight matches, as South Africa beat Sri Lanka by six wickets.

The United States are co-hosting the tournament with the West Indies, with matches staged also in Texas and Florida, as cricket hopes to woo American fans before returning to the Olympic programme in 2028.

The 12 562 fans in attendance in New York on Monday kept a party atmosphere going, and immigrants who never thought they would see their national team play cricket on US soil got a taste of home.

“Literally a dream come true. One would never expect cricket to be here, (but) like you see, so many fans out here,” said Shehan Perera, 27, who moved to the US from Sri Lanka when he was 14 years old.

“There’s a demand for cricket anywhere. If there’s an event, we’re going to show up.”

Meanwhile, India head coach Rahul Dravid will leave his post at the end of the ongoing T20 World Cup after almost three years in charge, and has no plans to reapply for the position, the 51-year-old said this week.

The India cricket board has advertised the vacancy since early May as Dravid’s contract expires at the end of June. The former India captain took over the national team following the 2021 T20 World Cup, replacing Ravi Shastri.

“I’ve really enjoyed coaching India, and I think it’s a truly special job to do. I’ve enjoyed working with this team, and it’s a great bunch of boys to work with,” Dravid said ahead of Wednesday’s match with Ireland.

“Unfortunately, just the kind of schedules (that are in place in international cricket) and where I find myself in this stage in my life, I don’t think I’ll be able to reapply (for the position).”

Former India opener Gautam Gambhir, who has been the mentor of Indian Premier League champions Kolkata Knight Riders, is a strong contender for coaching the national team, according to Indian media. | Reuters