I don’t like cricket, oh no. I love it! | Business student Muhammad Abdullah Sohail talks Pakistan vs India

Did you catch India and Pakistan square off at the ICC Cricket World Cup in England over the weekend?

For La Trobe Business student Muhammad Abdullah Sohail, the match was a bittersweet one.

While his beloved Pakistan couldn’t quite pull off an upset win, we love his passion for the sport that brought him here to La Trobe.

Here’s what he wrote for the Sunday Herald Sun ahead of the blockbuster clash:

Muhammad Abdullah Sohail says the fact La Trobe has its own cricket team was one of the things that attracted him to studying at the University.

When you hear the words “India versus Pakistan” the first thing that might pop into your mind is war, political conflict or cross border tension.

Well, think again folks, because this weekend, the only word on the minds of a collective population of 1.6 billion people across those two nations is “cricket”.

Tonight at 7.30, Pakistan and India will clash in the most anticipated match in cricket’s World Cup.

As a cricket-loving Pakistani, my eyes will be glued to my TV and I won’t be alone. During the last World Cup, matches between the two countries drew television audiences exceeding 300 million. We can expect even more this time.

Pakistanis, and Indians, think cricket, talk cricket, play cricket, watch cricket and at night we go to bed and dream about cricket.

I love the game because it helps me to express myself in the best possible way.

I’m an international student and one of the reasons I chose to study business and sports at La Trobe University was so I could play for the La Trobe University Cricket Club.

We don’t like cricket, oh no. We love it!

But tonight cricket will be more than a sport. It will be a uniting force between two rival nations. Sure, there will be those who see the game as an opportunity to humiliate the opposition, but tonight’s match is when many Pakistanis and Indians forget political tension and prejudice to peacefully enjoy a game of cricket between two powerhouses.

India aims to maintain its dominance over Pakistan and take its World Cups score to 7-0. But our mercurial Pakistani team is looking forward to beating India just as we did the last time our countries met at an ICC event in England, the Champions Trophy Final in 2017.

India may be on a high in this World Cup and unbeaten — and I think they are the hot favourites to win the title — whereas Pakistan has had a shaky ride so far and must bring their A-game to upset the favourites.

The venue for the clash is the mighty Old Trafford stadium in Manchester. Not surprisingly, it’s expected to be a full house with many thousands of Pakistani and Indian fans flocking in to support their teams.

My great hope is that the world will be able to watch an exciting game of cricket peacefully and, irrespective of which country wins, fans everywhere will enjoy the game. That’s the power of cricket.

Let’s hope the teams play according to the spirit of game and give outstanding performances.

May the best team win. And may that team be Pakistan!

This article originally appeared in the Sunday Herald Sun on 16 June, 2019, with the headline, 'Cricket has the power to unite us'.