Cricket-Arthur hurt by absence of Pakistan fans in Ahmedabad

By Amlan Chakraborty

AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters) – Pakistan team director Mickey Arthur was upset by the lack of their fans at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Saturday but would not blame the team’s comprehensive defeat by India on the absence of support from the stands.

The late unveiling of the tournament’s schedule had already made it difficult for fans from abroad to plan their tour of India for the 13th edition of the showpiece event.

Soured political relations between the Asian neighbours has further complicated the issue and the Pakistan Cricket Board has asked the governing International Cricket Council (ICC) to sort out visa delays for their fans and media travelling to India.

Almost an entirely Indian crowd of 100,000-plus fans turned the entire stadium into a sea of blue jerseys and Arthur felt the tournament, hosted by the Indian board (BCCI), lacked the flavour of a global event.

“It didn’t seem like an ICC event to be brutally honest,” the former Australia coach said after Pakistan’s seven-wicket loss.

“It seemed like a bilateral series, it seemed like a BCCI event.

“I didn’t hear ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’ coming through the microphones too often tonight,” he said referring to the unofficial anthem for the country.

“So yes, that does play a role, but I’m not going to use that as an excuse because for us it was about living the moment, it was about the next ball and it was about how we were going to combat the Indian players tonight.”

Only half a dozen Pakistani journalists arrived on the eve of the match and the ICC said they were trying to sort out the visa issues.

Asked if it was right for a World Cup, Arthur said: “Look, I don’t think I can comment on that just yet. I don’t want to get fined.”

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in Ahmedabad; editing by Toby Davis)