India-Pakistan cricket rivalry comes to Long Island in World Cup clash

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India and Pakistan’s fierce cricketing rivalry will be transplanted to New York’s Long Island on Sunday, in a hotly anticipated World Cup clash on American soil that has sent local fans into a frenzy and led to a stampede for last-minute tickets.

The fixture in Nassau County’s makeshift stadium, which holds 34,000 people, was oversubscribed within minutes of the original ballot going live earlier in the year. Officials have increased security after a threat by a terrorist group affiliated with Islamic State.

The average resale price for tickets reached $1,366 on SeatGeek on Thursday, nearly five times more than the next most in-demand game at the arena in Eisenhower Park, one of nine locations across the US and the Caribbean hosting the biennial tournament. Front-row seats with the best views had fetched as much as $2,400, the site said.

Matches between cricket-obsessed neighbours India and Pakistan have become relatively rare, as the two countries have not played each other in a bilateral series for more than a decade amid rising tensions over the fate of Kashmir. The sides generally only meet in International Cricket Council tournaments such as the T20 World Cup and its longer-format 50-over equivalent.

The decision to bring the 2024 tournament, and its most-watched match-up, to New York is part of an ongoing effort by the sport to capitalise on the growing number of cricket fanatics in the US — mostly in south Asian communities — and attract new supporters to the game.

A T20 franchise involving teams from cities including New York, Dallas and Seattle played its inaugural competition last year, and will enter its second season soon after the World Cup. Global stars including Australian captain Pat Cummins have already been signed up.

Cricket in the US also received an enormous boost on Wednesday, when the country’s fledgling team — consisting mostly of part-time professionals — scored one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport by beating Pakistan in a thrilling finish.

However, the build-up to India-Pakistan game has been marred by a threat from Afghan-based Islamic State affiliate Isis-K. Snipers will be placed in the vicinity and undercover agents deployed among the crowd, in what Nassau County police commissioner Patrick Ryder said last month was “the largest security [operation] we’ve ever had to do in this county’s history”.

Nassau County executive Bruce Blakeman told local radio station WCBS this week that federal agencies including the FBI were involved “to make sure that everybody is safe for the match” and pledged “a massive police presence” at the event.

Organisers have also had to contend with widespread criticism of the unpredictability of the New York pitch, after opening fixtures at the venue ended up being low-scoring affairs. The ICC on Thursday vowed to “remedy” the situation for the upcoming matches.

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