Gunshots replaced by silence as India beat Pakistan

Last Updated: Mar 31, 2011, 00:18 AM IST

Islamabad: The volley of gunshots that marked every big hit by a Pakistani batsman was replaced by a stunned silence as the Indian team beat Pakistan in the cricket World Cup semi-final at Mohali that was watched by the Prime Ministers of the two countries.

As the game began, thousands of people gathered at parks and stadiums across Pakistan where giant screens were put up to beam the match described as a showcase of one of the world`s most intense sporting rivalries.

Many people in cities hired high definition screens for private parties while Twitter and Facebook buzzed with emotional messages egging on the two teams.

Most Pakistani fans believed the 260 runs scored by the Indian team was a target that would be easily chases by their side.

Every time a Pakistani batsman unleashed a four or a six, gunfire rent the air over Islamabad and crowds that gathered at markets and public places cheered lustily.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who watched the game in Mohali with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh, yesterday declared a half-day holiday in offices and schools so that people could watch the semi-final thriller with arch-rival India.

Busy commercial centres, markets and roads quickly emptied at around noon as people left work to watch the game.

People continued to flock to shops selling the Pakistani flag and stickers well after the match had started.

Scores of youths, their faces painted green and white and wearing the green T-shirts of the Pakistan team, poured out into the streets.

Many youths drove through cities on motorcycles, waving the national flag and shouting slogans in support of their team.

Special prayers were offered in mosques, temples and churches across the country and people recited verses from the Quran to guide the Pakistani team to victory.

In several cities in Punjab and Sindh provinces, there was a carnival atmosphere and people set up large screens on road to watch the game.

Thirty-four television sets were installed in the Camp Jail in Lahore so that 4,000 prisoners could watch the faceoff between Pakistan and India.

In Malir Jail in Karachi, prison officials gave Indian team T-shirts to 200 Indian prisoners to support their team.

But as the Pakistani side was skittled out thanks to superb bowling by the Indian side, a hush descended over most cities and towns and people began streaming out of the parks and stadiums where the match was being beamed.

On Twitter, well-known musician Salman Ahmad wrote: "Well played India. You deserved to win today. Pakistan you can hold your head high as well, you played this World Cup with grace and passion."