Entrepreneurs gear up to cash in on Indo-Pak match

Karachi: With less than 24 hours remaining for Asia Cup`s marquee match between Pakistan and India, entrepreneurs are gearing up to cash in on the huge interest surrounding the match.

Most of the private clubs, gymkhanas, restaurant owners and public parks have announced they would be screening the match on the big screen to lure the customers.

"We are playing against India for the first time since the World Cup semi-final and obviously there is tremendous interest in it especially after Bangladesh upset India," the manager of a private club said.

"We have already got so many bookings that we have had to make arrangements for extra seats and sofas and a second big screen to show the match live," he added.

Manzoor Ali pointed out that members had confirmed plans to enjoy their day at the club watching the match, so special dishes for the occasion were also being prepared.

"It is going to be a big day tomorrow for us. All staffers have been told there will be no weekly holiday for them tomorrow," Ali said.

Sagheer Ahmed, a manager at a popular eating place, said they had also set up a giant screen and were prepared for the big rush.

"The environment gets very noisy and colourful during the match, but since tomorrow is Sunday I guess we will have a lot of families coming in for the match," he said.

Interestingly a number of designer outlets and boutiques, who had set Sunday as the launch date for their summer lawn collections at different venues in the city, have also postponed these events to some other day.

"Women generally don`t follow cricket, but when it is about playing India then they are as excited and involved, as they can`t resist the cricket fever prevailing in their homes," designer Naveen said.

The local authorities have also made arrangements for giant screens in public and amusement parks where people from the lower income group can go and enjoy a day out with their families and friends.

Rashid, a shopkeeper who usually makes huge profits selling locally manufactured copies of the Pakistani cricket shirts, cursed the strike call given by the MQM and traders in Karachi on Saturday.

"Nearly all markets and shops had to remain closed today we will open late evening, but we would have minted money selling these T-shirts," he said.

For many Pakistanis the Asia Cup encounter is a chance for their country to avenge the World Cup semi-final defeat in Mohali exactly a year ago.

"Let`s just hope that this time Misbah-ul-Haq plays a faster innings. Twice he has cost us matches against India in the World Cups in 2007 and 2011," a local club player Mustafa said.

As expected most of the television channels have also prepared special programming for the match, with advertisers and sponsors keen to cash in on the hype.

"We always expect such response before an India-Pakistan match. Because cricket sells in Pakistan and it is also a unifying force for us," Uzma Ali, a marketing manager at a leading newspaper group said.