World Cup semifinal: Mohali citizens throw open homes to Pak fans

Cricket mania has touched a crescendo in fortress Mohali as it gears up to stage the eagerly-awaited World Cup semifinal clash between India and Pakistan and even the ruckus over ticket sales has failed to dampen the fans' enthusiasm.

The Wagah-Attari border has been flooded by fans on either side of the border who raised slogans in support of their nations while at Mohali, where the two teams will face each other on Wednesday, water-tight security has been put in place.

During the retreat ceremony at the Wagah (Pakistan)-Attari (India) border yesterday, a huge gathering of fans of the two countries was seen waving flags of their nations.

Fans raised slogans like "Hindustan Zindabad, Hindustan Jeetega, Bharat Mata Ki Jai" and "Pakistan Zindabad" as cricket took centerstage and everything else was pushed in the background.

With the arch-rivals facing each other after a long gap as bilateral action between the two nations had been suspended in the wake of Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, cricket mania has been touching new heights with each passing day.

Fans from Pakistan have also started to trickle in. Pakistan Cricket Board official Tariq Haqim arrived here with his wife and son Ibrahim.

"Everybody wants to rush to Mohali to watch the match, such is the craze among the fans about this match," Haqim said.

Haqim's wife, whose grandfather came from Jalandhar and served in the police force during British rule, said it was her second visit to India but this time it was an altogether different experience.

Haqim's wife said fans across the border were also very excited about the match.

"If the borders are thrown open, half of Pakistan will descend here to watch the semifinal," she told PTI here.

She further said fans willing to come here should be granted visa "as it is not just about watching the match. They can just come here and be part of such a great cricketing atmosphere".

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