California man travels thousands of miles to support team as India beats Pakistan

Ritu Jha-

Kunal Shah[Above] had a huge smile on his face. He could hardly have been happier: he had been watching the Pakistan-India match – and India had won!

His team had not just bowled out Pakistan for 191 in 42.5 overs but also topped the points table for the International Cricket Council World Cup 2023.

Shah, a software engineer from Fremont, California, flew to Ahmedabad to watch the one-day international cricket match to support his team. He went with family –  cousins – and friends who also live in Ahmedabad. He could not take his own wife and children, because the latter had school to attend.

“I wish they could have come,” Shah said, ruefully. “It was a rare chance to watch an India-Pakistan match that too from your native hometown. When will you get such an opportunity again when you live in the US?”

Shah told indica he felt no jet lag, despite a 23-hour trip. Perhaps he was just too excited.

“I was grateful to witness it live from the presidential gallery of the world’s largest stadium,” he said. He was talking about the Narendra Modi Stadium, an international cricket stadium in Ahmedabad.

“It was a thrilling experience, being seated with high-profile cricketers and Bollywood stars,” he said.

There was a lot of traffic to the stadium, and security was on high alert.

Kunal Shah (right) with Jay Shah, the secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) at Narendra Modi Stadium, Oct 14, 2023. [Photo courtesy: Kunal Shah]
“Checking took a long time, given the sensitivity of an India-Pakistan match. It was tight. But both teams were very relaxed, he said. Shah got to meet a few cricket board dignitaries, including Jay Shah, the secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the son of India’s de facto Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah, who too was watching the match. The stadium is named after Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I could not meet Amit Shah but I did meet Bollywood personalities, such as Arijit Singh, Shankar Mahadevan, Sunidhi Chauhan, and Anushaka Sharma, in the VIP lounge,” Shah said, quite unable to contain himself.

“Cricket is like a religion to me,” he said, while admitting that the current contest was a bit of an anti-climax.

“It was a one-sided game,” said Shah, who has been a cricket fan since age 5. He used to play cricket in India until his college days. In the US, he played in a cricket league in Fremont on weekends.


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