Pakistan team arrive in India for first time in seven years

Pakistan’s cricket team arrived in India after a gap of almost seven years to cheers from fans and messages of welcome from their Indian counterparts, as they prepare to participate in the 13th edition of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup starting from 5 October.

It comes after the team faced what officials described as an “extraordinary delay” in securing visas for the players to enter India, with permission only being granted hours before they arrived on Wednesday night.

Pakistan and India have a long history of hostility since gaining independence from British rule in 1947, marked by three wars and restrictions on the movement of their citizens across the border. Despite the two countries being neighbours there are no direct flights, with journeys between the two typically taking a long detour via Dubai.

It all makes for one of the world’s fiercest sporting rivalries, with India-Pakistan matches considered must-see events across South Asia. They are all the more hotly anticipated because of their rarity, with the two sides only facing each other in international tournaments. Pakistan last played in India during the T20 World Cup in 2016.

Star Indian cricketer Virat Kohli wrote on X: “I warmly welcome Pakistan Cricket Team on their arrival in my country after a long time period of 7 years.”

He added that he would host a party “for my friends, especially for (all-rounder) Shadab (Khan) at my house.” He added: “Love you all, always spread love and joy.”

Photos and videos shared on social media showed Pakistan’s players trooping out with a cheering crowd waiting for them outside the airport in the Indian city of Hyderabad.

The 2023 Cricket World Cup will take place in India between 5 October and 19 November. Arch-rivals India and Pakistan will play at the Narendra Modi Stadium at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Sports Complex in Ahmedabad on 14 October.

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