Graphic by Mariko Kuroda/TheGazelle
Cricket is not a sport, cricket is a religion — this expression is common for those growing up in the Indian subcontinent, and sometimes we encounter it more than we would like. Though extreme, the saying seems to capture all the emotion and feelings of fans of the sport, which millions of fans follow, whether at the city, state or country level.
The intensity surrounding a cricket match comes to a frenzy when it's time for the ICC Cricket World Cup. Held every four years, the World Cup involves 14 teams. Although it is not the only international cricketing prize, the World Cup is a crowning achievement in competing nations’ quests for supremacy. This year’s much-anticipated finals will take place on 29 March.
Abu Dhabi, and the UAE as a whole, is home to one of the largest populations of migrant labor workers relative to its local population. The subcontinent contributes close to half of the over 5 million migrant laborers
in the UAE. The Cricket World Cup is a major event in the lives of those working here, as it is one of the few experiences that remains the same from home. People working anywhere, from hair cutting salons to large governmental companies, follow the World Cup actively and have strong opinions on the matches.
Senior Cyril Cherian, a member of the cricket team at NYU Abu Dhabi, said that the biggest match of the World Cup this year was India vs. Pakistan. The India-Pakistan rivalry is a famous one
in the world of cricket, and tensions run high no matter where the matches are held. From overhearing taxi drivers using overblown rhetoric and expletives to convince you why one team will triumph over the other, to hearing kitchen staff wax eloquent on the skills of their team, it’s easy to find a combination of interesting opinions regarding the match.
Students are split on whether the experience of following the World Cup is better in Abu Dhabi or at home. While freshman Sahan Tampoe believes he has less time to actively follow matches, freshman Farzan Ahmad Khan feels the diversity present among cricket-lovers at NYUAD allows for a more thorough understanding of opinions and perspectives.
The love of the sport brings together a wide array of people, from different walks of life as well as from different nations. The World Cup is proving to be more important for the Emirates
this year as the UAE national cricket team made it through the qualifiers and is now into the main round. The team has come close to stirring trouble for some of the more experienced teams. So whether or not you are watching the World Cup in your individual rooms, or on the TVs connected to the action around campus, you will feel the energy of the World Cup.
Author’s note: The TVs in the lounges and activity zones all connect to the cricket channels. Ask any Indian or Pakistani in the vicinity for a detailed schedule of play.