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'Team India represents India in more than one way'

Source: PTI
May 26, 2024 17:57 IST
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IMAGE: India will play three matches in New York -- versus Ireland, Pakistan and the United States. Photograph: BCCI

The T20 World Cup in the US is a 'landmark event' and there is huge excitement among the diaspora as well as across America, India's envoy in New York said emphasising that the tournament is playing a 'very significant role' in bringing cricket to the country's mainstream and will further contribute towards the bilateral people-to-people relationship.


"This is the first time we are having a (cricket) World Cup being played on US soil. There is huge excitement, not only among the Indian diaspora members but even in the United States," Consul General of India in New York Binaya Srikanta Pradhan told PTI.

He said American congressmen, senators, elected representatives are all talking about the T20 Cricket World Cup being held in the US and West Indies next month.

The T20 World Cup is being jointly hosted by the USA and the West Indies from June 2 to June 29. The Indian cricket team, which has departed India for New York, will begin its campaign against Ireland on June 5 at the newly-constructed Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York. India will face arch-rivals Pakistan on June 9, followed by matches against co-hosts USA (June 12) and Canada (June 15) in their Group A matches.

India had won the inaugural edition of the T20 World Cup way back in 2007 in South Africa.

"I am sure this is going to be a landmark event," Pradhan said. "Team India represents India in more than one way. There is huge excitement, not only in the community, but even in the Indian Consulate," Pradhan said, adding that "we are looking forward to welcome them and will be there to cheer for them, and they will have fun here."

India will play three matches in New York -- versus Ireland, Pakistan and the United States. "This is the first time India will be playing with the American team. So it's a truly momentous occasion," he said.

On the fever-pitch anticipation for the match between India and Pakistan, Pradhan said tickets for the game were sold out months before the tournament, with a lot of visitors from India expected to travel to New York especially for the match.

"There is huge excitement," he said, adding that several very distinguished people from the Indian diaspora, American public would be watching this match. "So we're also looking forward to that," he said.

IMAGE: The 34,000-seat Nassau County international cricket stadium in New York state is expected to be filled to the brim when India take on Pakistan on June 9. Photograph: ICC 2023

Cricket is not a mainstream sport in the US, which has traditionally been a baseball, American football, basketball, ice hockey, and soccer-playing nation.

Members of the diaspora from the Indian sub-continent as well as those belonging to other cricket-playing nations such as the West Indies and Australia play the sport in the US but usually on temporary, make-do pitches on baseball fields, in parks and on school sports fields during the summer months.

Pradhan said that the T20 World Cup is playing a "very significant role in promoting cricket in mainstream United States."

In the run-up to the World Cup, the Consulate General of India in New York released a special video highlighting the comparison and similarities between cricket and baseball to "inform the American audience that they should look forward to this game and this sport is very much similar in some ways to baseball."

Pradhan said the response the Consulate has received has been tremendous.

Noting that cricket at the moment is very popular among the Indian diaspora, Pradhan referred to the professional Twenty20 cricket league in the United States Major Premier League and the Minor Premier League.

"It's already catching up in the diaspora. But I'll not be surprised if in a few years' time, you will find the American -- not the Indian-origin Americans, but the Americans will be playing cricket as a mainstream game," he said.

Pradhan noted that cricket infrastructure, including proper stadiums are now coming up in the US, as he cited the Nassau County stadium where India will play three matches.

He said he was recently in the New York State capital of Albany where he saw a cricket stadium. "I'm told in many parts of the United States, both on the East Coast and the West Coast, there are cricket stadiums which are coming up," and many less used baseball stadiums are also being converted to cricket stadiums.

"It's only a matter of few years when you will find infrastructure for cricket (in the US), which would be as developed as we have in our country," he said.

As a diplomatic establishment, the Indian Consulate has invited the political leadership from the 10 East coast states that it serves as well as some members of the India Caucus, including congressmen and senators to come and watch the India-United States match on June 12.

"Because I feel it would be appropriate that they come and they cheer both the Indian team and the American team. We will also be cheering for both the teams. So the 12th June match is special for me as a diplomatic establishment when India and American teams will be playing," he said.

"Of course, the other matches are important. India-Pakistan match has always remained the centre point," Pradhan said.

He added that he is looking forward personally to welcoming many American dignitaries who would "join us to watch the India-US match."

"India-US relationship has reached a point of inflection, where it's not limited to government-to-government cooperation. All stakeholders are actively participating in it," he said underlining that it is good that sports is now coming up in a big way, "contributing towards the people-to-people relationship."

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