Fans of Pakistan's cricket team Sunday watch the country's World...

Fans of Pakistan's cricket team Sunday watch the country's World Cup match with India on big screens set up at Cedar Creek Park in Seaford. Credit: Morgan Campbell

A hearty and good-natured group of fans, some pulling for India, others hoping Pakistan emerged on top, watched together on giant screens at a Seaford park as the on-field rivalry between the bordering countries played out a few miles north at the T20 Cricket World Cup.

Among those watching at Cedar Creek Park: Cherish James, 41, of Franklin Square, who immigrated to the United States from India 14 years ago.

In the past, political tensions between India and Pakistan have boiled over into testy confrontations between fans of the national teams — so much so that games have been relocated to a neutral country.

For James and many others at Cedar Creek, watching the game broadcast from a temporary Eisenhower Park stadium meant rooting for their national team of choice playing the game they love, and with no time for negativity.

A big screen television at Cedar Creek Park had the...

A big screen television at Cedar Creek Park had the attention Sunday of these cricket fans. Credit: Morgan Campbell

“We are all from Asia and we work with Pakistanis in our workplace,” said James, 41, adding that there is certainly a rivalry with Pakistan's cricket team, but “it’s a friendly rivalry.”

Officials with the World Cup had predicted capacity crowds Sunday for the match and they were proved right, as spectators packed the 34,000-seat stadium.

The International Cricket Council estimates there are 200,000 cricket players in the United States, a more than six-fold increase from two decades ago.

English settlers brought the game with them to North America but by the late 19th century it was largely forsaken in favor of another homegrown game played with a bat and ball.

For every similarity with baseball — hard-covered balls, wooden bats — there are just as many differences. The cricket field is oval-shaped.

The person throwing to the batter is known as the bowler. Rules dictate that the ball must first hit the ground before it reaches the batter.

The batter can hit the ball anywhere — there’s no foul territory.

“I think cricket is way more complex of a game than baseball,” said Saman Saleem, 33, who came from Boston to watch the World Cup and had tiny Pakistani flags painted on each cheek.

“Even if the game is slow, you can look at the science behind it. With every ball there’s something to learn.”

Added her brother, Sal Saleem, 34, “Even if nothing is going on, something is going on,”

In earlier Cup games, India beat Bangladesh. Pakistan lost to the U.S. That meant Pakistan would be out if the team lost to India on Sunday.

So two old friends — Raj Talreja, of Indianapolis, wearing a Pakistan jersey, and Farhan Tariq, who emigrated from Pakistan in the 1990s but wore an India jersey — both hoped Pakistan would win so the two teams would advance.

“We eat the same food, we speak the same language, our cultures are the same,” said Talreja, whose parents lived in what is now Pakistan but left for India after a 1947 partition created two separate nations.

“From the heart,” he continued, “we are still the same people.”

In the end, India bested Pakistan and will face the U.S. team Wednesday.

Tariq, who lives in Lake Grove, said he thinks this World Cup will win new fans to cricket.

“Cricket is going to be a new sport. It’s going to make cricket another thing after soccer.”

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