Superfan Bashir Chacha set for India-Pakistan clash

The Pakistan-born fan will be in Ahmedabad for the high-octane clash between two countries.
Mohammad Bashir in Hyderabad during the 2023 ICC Men’s ODI World Cup . (Photo | Sri Loganathan Velmurugan)
Mohammad Bashir in Hyderabad during the 2023 ICC Men’s ODI World Cup . (Photo | Sri Loganathan Velmurugan)

AHMEDABAD: Sport can be a lot of things. Passion, hobby, a connection to the roots, city, country, a political tool to put on a show of extravaganza. What sport is also a vehicle and a platform where people come together, forgetting their differences for the sheer love of the sport.

And it is the people, the fans and super fans, who leave the jingoism and nationalism behind to watch a good game, are the biggest stakeholders of the sport. They represent the best of the sport. In cricket, one such unavoidable name when it comes to super fans is — Mohammad Bashir.

Fondly called as Bashir Chacha or Chicago Chacha, Bashir, a Pakistan-born settled in Chicago, has travelled across the globe to cheer for the Pakistan cricket team for almost two decades. From 2007 till 2023, he has not missed a single Men’s ODI World Cup cheering for the team wherever they are, including the Hyderabad leg of the ongoing tournament.

On Saturday, as the Babar Azam-led side takes on India in front of a sea of blue at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Bashir will be the only Pakistani-born fan in the stands cheering for them. Bashir, who has an American passport, didn’t have trouble getting a visa but that wasn’t the case with other Pakistan fans who could not come for the World Cup.

Bashir, who made it to the country, has experienced a lot of love from fellow fans in India so far. “Hyderabad gave me a lot of love. I have been in Ahmedabad for two days and here also people are showering me with love. We talk and click selfies. Here, I will be the only Pakistan supporter against more than 1 lakh India fans,” laughs Bashir on the morning of the match.

That he will be the only Pakistan fan did not change anything for Bashir, neither did the advice people gave him about travelling to Ahmedabad. “I was warned not to go to Ahmedabad as I am sporting a beard but believe me, people are giving me so much love here. They are taking selfies with me, and clicking pics with me. It will be a lot of fun. I will raise a slogan of ‘Jeetega bhai jeetega’, everybody will say ‘India jeetega’ but I will chant Pakistan jeetega. I will enjoy the outing,” he said. 

In Hyderabad, Bashir and Pakistan had a memorable week with him watching the game from the hospitality box and the team bagging four points. More than the wins, the way fans embraced Pakistan and cheered for them is something that will always stay with Bashir. “I could not differentiate whether I am in Hyderabad or Pakistan. The ground was 75 per cent in the Pakistan vs Sri Lanka match. 70 per cent of them were supporting Pakistan,” he recalls.

Ask him about his favourite WC memory, Bashir says it was the 2011 semifinal between the two countries in Mohali when the then Indian captain MS Dhoni arranged tickets for him “The 2011 World Cup is my favourite. That was my first visit to India. Dhoni gave me everything I needed. That match where India beat Pak in the semifinal in Mohali, that is my favourite memory,” he says.

India and Pakistan haven’t played any bilateral cricket in over a decade due to the political friction bets the two countries and governments. Bashir requested that the governments should come together to make it happen again. “All I can say is that the India and Pakistan governments should come together and organise at least three matches in the year. The love between the people will only grow,” says Bashir.

From his first India visit in 2011 to now, Bashir has seen a lot of changes in the way things have cities have developed in the country. The one thing that has remained the same is the love of the people. “People are very affectionate here. I will request people to visit India at least once and see how Indians love you,” he signed off to get ready for the high-octane clash.

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The New Indian Express