India’s Sudhir Kumar and Pakistan’s Mohammad Basheer are the most famous and recognized cricket fans from both sides of the border, not only share great camaraderie while cheering their country at the stadium, but are great friends of the field as well.
The ongoing Asia Cup 2018 is playing in the UAE and the 37-year-old Kumar, who hails from Muzaffarpur, Bihar, India, gets several sponsorships to cheer for the national team. However, this time his sponsorship for the tournament was given by the Pakistan superfan Basheer.
But it could not become an obstacle in Kumar’s way to Dubai, as Basheer opened his heart along with his wallet to ensure Sudhir Kumar to make it to the Asia Cup 2018. Even the Chicago-based Pakistani’s this kind gesture brought them together, as they are sharing a room in India’s team hotel in Dubai.
Basheer told AFP, “I called Kumar to ask when he is coming to Dubai for the Asia Cup. But I found him a bit disheartened because of no sponsorship, so I paid for his ticket and stay in Dubai.”
However, Pakistan could not make it to the Asia Cup 2018 final but Basheer will be there to cheer India along with Kumar in Dubai on September 28. The two first met during the 2011 World Cup and ever since they became close friends and have been getting together at India-Pakistan matches.
An elated Kumar said, “I owe this tour to Basheer who has shown that friendship has no boundaries. We pull each other’s legs during the matches but at the end of the day cricket brings people of the two nations closer.”
The India–Pakistan cricket rivalry is known as the cricket’s fiercest rivalry, which excites fans across the globe and even Basheer, who runs a restaurant in Chicago famous, said that there is nothing like an India-Pakistan match. He is also a big fan of MS Dhoni, who often arranges tickets for him.
Basheer further added, “My wife is from Hyderabad Deccan in India, so I support India because of my wife and Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Pakistan because it is my country of birth.”
On being asked about marriage, Kumar said he was already “married to cricket.” He added, “Every time my elders ask me to marry I run away from home for cricket. I have left various jobs to satiate my thirst for the game, which is my life and wife.”
Kumar has seen India play in 64 Tests, more than 300 one-day internationals and 72 Twenty20 internationals, but said his most memorable tour was to Pakistan in 2006.
He added, “I can’t forget the Pakistan tour for the love and following I received. I went through various hassles to get a visa for Pakistan and when I reached Wagah on a bicycle they initially did not allow me to cross the border but somehow I managed.”
On the other hand, Basheer also gets a warm reception whenever he tours India from Kumar, his last tour was in 2016 for the World Twenty20. He added, “People-to-people love exists, no matter what happens at the top level. India and Pakistan not playing each other in their countries is sad and I always pray that relations get back to normal so that we can play each other.”
Kumar is also hoping that Pakistan’s new Prime Minister, Imran Khan will pave way for a revival in relations on the field. He signed off by saying, “I have high hopes with Imran. I await the day when we play each other in their country ... that day will come.”