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Fans Gather at Queens Cinema to Watch Cricket Face-Off Between India, Pakistan

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cricket fans from around the New York area gathered at a Queens movie theater early Wednesday to watch India defeat Pakistan in the World Cup semifinal.

At the Jackson Heights Cinema on 82nd Street, Pardeep Singh Virk was rooting for India, where he was born and raised before he came to live in East Elmhurst, Queens.

He said he could have watched the match at home, "but this is the place with the big screen, and everyone is here — from the Pakistan side, the Indian side, all guys cheering up, and all that. It's a good place to watch it," he said.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sat in a VIP box with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at the match, which took place in the Indian border state of Punjab. They had called on fans of both teams to watch together.

So what did local enthusiasts think about the so-called "cricket diplomacy"?

"I'm not sure about that, but it's good that they are together," said Long Island resident Iqbal Muzafar, who was rooting for his native Pakistan. He said most of the people in the crowd of about 100 were rooting for the Indian team, which went on to win by 29 runs.

Siva Gunasegaram, whose father owns the Jackson Heights Cinema, worked at the theater throughout the match and said the mood in the crowd was positive.

"Healthy rivalry's encouraged," he said. "The supporters have been loyal to keeping things respectful. And that's definitely key, not only in the theater, but wherever you are, and whoever you're watching it with, you should be respectful of the other team."

Gunasegram's dad is originally from Sri Lanka, so the theater will host a viewing party for fans on Saturday, when India takes on the Sri Lankan team in the World Cup final.

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Comments [1]

Somak Das

I'm so glad that India won but does anyone suspect any kind of match fixing. I'm sorry to be so blunt but both the countries have bad reputation of match fixing.

Mar. 30 2011 11:18 PM

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