In India, Pakistan captain Babar Azam has said that his team has been welcomed very warmly. After arriving in Hyderabad, where they’ve played two warm-up games and are about to play their first couple of games of the tournament, Babar confessed to having changed his mind.
“To be honest, we also heard that,” he started off when asked if the reception would be intimidating. “But since the time we arrived in Hyderabad, the kind of hospitality we’ve received and the kind of welcome we had from the airport to the hotel…even in the last match at the ground we felt very good,” he said.
As Pakistan’s arrival in India triggered a lot of speculation over visas, some of which have been sorted with journalists also expected to arrive. The possibility of fans crossing the border is still unclear, but Babar wished for it.
“It’ll be even better if we have our fans come as well. And hopefully we get that kind of support in every match and at every ground, so looking forward to it,” he said.
On the eve of the tournament, the captain of India sounded optimistic in his message to the other captains in a media event before Pakistan take on India in Ahmedabad.
“Every leader sitting here wants to achieve something really really special for their country and there is something which is highly prized. The 50-over World Cup is always something that I’ve dreamt of growing up as a child and I’m sure it’s the same for all the guys sitting here as well. One thing I can assure, and everyone will know about it, is that people are going to love the tournament here. The stadiums are going to be jam-packed, people here love their cricket. They love their team, but they love their cricket as well but rest assured it’s going to be a very good tournament,” said Rohit Sharma.
“I think every four years even with the introduction of T20 World Cups, they’re still major events, the World Test championship as well. But I still think the ODI World Cup, and probably everyone else here shares the same opinion that it’s definitely one of the top events that we can play in the world,” opined Williamson while Rohit threw his weight behind the Indian public’s expectations.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and Rohit Sharma were emphatic about the ODI World Cup’s primacy and format.
“Everyone’s quite excited. Even before we got into these warm-up games, like a month back every time we were travelling around India, the talks were all about the World Cup. And it is not unusual in India, it’s quite common that any big event that happens here people get really excited. And cricket being the biggest sport in India, I’m not surprised by the excitement that people have. It is not just in one or two cities but it is spread across the entire country. Anywhere we go, the talk is about the World cup. People are excited and obviously its happening after 12 years in India, so all the more reason to be excited,” said Rohit.