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Hit by the cricket fever

How exactly are cricket fans gearing up for the World Cup

Hit by the cricket fever

Whenever Pakistan cricket team is playing any major cricketing event such as ICC Cricket World Cup, the enthusiasm of Pakistan cricket fans isn’t limited to the cricket stadiums . In fact all markets, streets, auditoriums and educational institutions are hit by the cricket fever.

With World Cup 2015 hardly two weeks away, cricket fever is now turning into an epidemic in Pakistan. While some fans are busy buying replica T-shirts of Pakistan cricket team, others are making arrangements to enjoy the World Cup matches in a different way.

One of the ways opted by fans in Karachi is to install big screens. However, the awkward timings of game won’t allow these fans to enjoy more than two games of group stages to enjoy on big screens.

Two of Pakistan’s six pool matches, against India on February 15 and against Ireland on March 15, are scheduled to commence at 8:30 am and these are the matches that would provide fans a chance to enjoy them on big screen.

“Pakistan vs India game is on Sunday, so it is going to be an ideal Sunday morning for us. We will install a big screen in our area where all the residents of the vicinity will enjoy the match on big screen with families,” says Mohammad Zubair of Nazimabad.

“It will be open-for-all scene — no entry passes required. We want people of Pakistan to enjoy these matches and cheer for the team; we don’t get the opportunity to enjoy international Cricket at home grounds so we are just trying to create a stadium-like environment on our streets,” says Zubair.

Installing big screens to enjoy Pakistan Cricket games is a recent trend. Initially it was confined to auditoriums or clubs, but now this has become a trend for various streets of Karachi.

During World T20s last year, screens were installed at more than 20 venues of Karachi. Around a dozen organisers have already announced their plans for installing screens for Pakistan vs India game in the World Cup.

This activity also provides business opportunities to traders who deal in installing screens and projectors.

“I remember that we provided screens and projectors to eight different clients during last year’s World T20. Before that around a dozen screens were provided on rent during Pakistan vs India game in the Asia Cup,” says Ali Yasir, a local trader in Karachi who deals in projector services.

As all the matches are going to be played during “working-hours”, fans are also planning to buy special devices to enable TV connections on their computers.

“My office timings are from 8am to 6pm and I don’t want to miss a single match of the World Cup, so I’ve bought a device which will enable TV connection on my computer,” says Hamza who works for a private firm.

Although Cricket World Cup is a big event, the match timings might not allow everyone to enjoy every single ball of the event.

But, event broadcasters are also planning to make special arrangements on the internet.

“We understand that it won’t be easy for everyone to wake up at 3am, so we’re trying to make rewindable streams available on our website. We’ll also put match highlights after every game for fans,” says an official of the event broadcaster in Pakistan.

Fans will also have an option of watching the games on internet via live streaming, but many don’t want to rely on it due to the inconsistent internet speed.

The World Cup fever is also likely to boost TV market in the country. Traders are hoping for a 20 per cent rise in sales of TV sets during the World Cup.

“Usually TV sales per-month is Rs45,000 to Rs50,000 sets per month but we expect it to touch Rs60,000 to Rs65,000 during the next month,” says Idrees Memon, a Karachi based trader who deals in electronic appliances.

“People usually demand HD sets to watch sports events,” he says.

Another dealer says that sales of appliances is directly linked with Pakistan’s performance in the event.

“If the team is doing well, then sales can go up by 50 per cent, but if the team isn’t, then sales boost is limited to 20 to 30 per cent,” says Sarfarazuddin of All Pakistan Electronics Manufacturers Association.

Some TV companies have already announced cricket related campaigns while some are going to launch it by the start of cricketing extravaganza.

With all these arrangements, fans in Karachi are now hoping that men-in-green won’t let them down and will repeat the performance of 1992 World Cup.

Faizan Lakhani

Faizan Lakhani
The author is sports correspondent at Geo News. He can be found on Twitter @faizanlakhani

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