India vs Pakistan: Rivals on the field, friends off it - fans light up Old Trafford

By Amy LofthouseBBC Sport at Old Trafford

India versus Pakistan in the World Cup is as close to a rock concert as cricket will come.

There was nothing genteel or quiet about this, no sounds of sandwiches being unwrapped or flasks of tea being opened.

It's the noise which will linger in the memory. And the colourful costumes.

Oh, and the numbers. The numbers are staggering: 700,000 ticket requests, 600 media requests, a reported one billion TV viewers.

But it was the 23,500 fans inside the ground who lit up this most extraordinary of matches, from the first ball to the last.

There was so much hype around this. And yes, the ending - Pakistan coming back out after heavy rain to a half-empty ground, needing an improbable 136 runs from 30 balls - was not the marquee finish we had imagined.

But what a day.

The noise drifts along the pavement on the walk to the ground. Ten minutes before the gate opens and already, the fans have gathered.

Mum, dad, two kids, decked in Pakistan green, stroll along the pavement. In one hand, a rolled up flag. In the other, an umbrella. It is Manchester, after all.

The traffic is starting to get backed up. People spill out into the street. Three young men are chanting 'Pakistan, zindabad!' - 'victory to Pakistan' - on the pavement when a group of India fans come behind them.

The leader of the group embraces the man carrying the Pakistan flag, all of them roaring in one another's face in delight, before they go their separate ways, singing all the time.

Cars are everywhere. There's a Pakistan fan on a horse, being cheered by onlookers. A tout moves quietly between the fans, muttering about buying and selling tickets. A merch seller is doing a roaring trade in horns. There are no half-and-half scarves here.

TV crews grab fans outside the ground, delivering serious pieces to camera while behind them the horns blare. Volunteers move among the throng, directing people, while two policeman stand laughing and joking with a group of fans. There has been, will always be, politics around this match. But here, outside the ground, it is all about the cricket.

India v Pakistan at Old Trafford
Both India and Pakistan fans created a carnival atmosphere inside and outside Old Trafford

Trying to walk around the stadium is near impossible. Fans scuttle this way and that. One boy drags his father by the hand, desperate to get to their seats before the first ball is bowled. The media centre itself is as packed as it will probably ever be. Journalists go to their assigned seats, taking sneaky photographs of their view. Some are outside, among the fans.

There isn't a moment of silence. There's usually a hum at a cricket match. Here, it is magnified. Fans roar as the captains walk out for the toss. The yell when Virat Kohli speaks is so loud he has to shout into the microphone to be heard.

Each fan is respectful of the other's anthem. A video goes viral of a Pakistan fan singing the India anthem. The noise swells as they come to an end; one loud, guttural cheer.

The game is about to begin.

Every run is an event. The first runs by India are cheered, the first boundary, a wide, all greeted by the same noise. Flags are everywhere: over the side of the stands, the balcony of the hotel, wrapped around leaping fans in their seats.

The temporary stand, a giant 71-row contraption, shakes constantly as the India supporters jump up and down. A baby grumbles at the noise, while a young boy leaps to his feet as he sees a six fly over the ropes.

India v Pakistan at Old Trafford
The bright colours in the crowd illuminated an overcast day in Manchester

An India fan at the back of the stand tuts as the batsmen don't put away every ball from the spinner. There's an audible groan as KL Rahul is caught, followed by the Pakistan fans jumping to their feet. They might be outnumbered but they can cheer just as loud.

Now "Kohli, Kohli" rings around the ground as India's ebullient captain walks to the crease. Beneath the stands, the bhangra drums start, a crowd gathering to dance. Those in their seats stand and applaud as Rohit Sharma reaches his century.

When the rain arrives, the flags are replaced by umbrellas, the stands a sea of black and blue, but the ground never empties. The queue for the food stands grow, people swaddled in macs, but some find shelter at the back of the stands, still waving their flags.

The groundsmen clearing away the excess water are cheered as the heroes of the hour. The first ball of the resumption is bowled to a chorus of hand-claps.

When Kohli falls shortly afterwards, walking before he is given out, it is the quietest it has been all day. When Pakistan come out to bat, they are given a warm welcome. But it is clear where the majority of this ground's loyalties lies.

Pakistan boundaries are not greeted with the same noise or exuberance. Perhaps it's because there aren't as many. If a bowler induces a mistake, then the crowd's 'ooh' echoes around;. The Bharat Army unfurl their giant flags as Vijay Shankar takes the first wicket for India. The tempo swells in the stands as Pakistan begin to hit out, but as the wickets begin to fall regularly and the clouds darken it is all India.

When the rain arrives, it looks as though the match is done. Half the stadium empties, while those that remain huddle underneath umbrellas. Pakistan may be on the verge of defeat but their fans stay. It is the match of a lifetime, and they want to be there until the end.

Those who stay see a strange, disconnected final five overs. But they also see players from both sides embracing one another. They have seen a fun, strange, loud, noisy, colourful game of cricket played in the right spirit.

Their heroes have put on a show. They leave happy.

India v Pakistan at Old Trafford
Many seasoned observers were left perplexed by the finish, with many supporters having already left

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