The match still has four days to go, and it's not as if the first day's play was without its nervous moments. "India's captain, Mohammed Azharuddin, dropped two simple catches in the opening overs," says Rahman. "That made some people anxious, because Azharuddin is a Muslim, and when India plays Pakistan some Hindu nationalists question his loyalty." For most fans, though, ethnic bigotry is just not cricket.
NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan went into battle Thursday, but with bat and ball rather than nuclear devices. With Hindu nationalists having grudgingly withdrawn their threats to disrupt proceedings, India's cricketers managed to bundle out Pakistan for a meager 238. But the batsmen of the traditional enemy across the border were warmly received by the Indian fans. "The Pakistanis were enthusiastically applauded whenever they played a good innings," says TIME New Delhi correspondent Maseeh Raman. "It was the best-case scenario for Indian fans -- the Pakistanis coming here to play cricket and then taking a good beating on the first day."