Fans of India celebrate a score against Pakistan during the...

Fans of India celebrate a score against Pakistan during the T20 Cricket World Cup at Eisenhower Park on Sunday. Credit: James Carbone

The Mets played in London on Sunday at the same time that two international cricket powers were competing in East Meadow.

This odd circumstance illustrated something we already knew: That the distance between sports worlds is smaller now than it ever was before.

Still, this was a sight to behold in our little corner of Earth.

India met Pakistan in a T20 World Cup match in a temporary 34,000-seat stadium at Eisenhower Park, none of which would have made sense until recently.

But there it was.

It surely was the costliest sports ticket on Long Island this year, if not this decade, and it just as surely drew a global television audience larger than any Super Bowl.

It was an event so big that it merited viewing parties not only in Karachi and Kolkata but in Queens, USA, at Citi Field, which was available because, well, see above.

Then India rallied to win by six after at one point having less than a 10% estimated chance of doing so, thrilling a crowd heavily dominated by India fans.

So there was sports drama in addition to everything else.

The whole thing seemed like a dream come true to the many people, most of South Asian descent, who arrived from points all over North America and beyond.

“This is a life-changing event,” Zeeshan Ali of Queens said before the match. “I’ve been here 30 years in New York, and this is the first time I get to see cricket live.”

Ali, a Pakistan supporter, was wearing a bright green wig at the time. Nearby, Sai Nabella of Columbus, Ohio, an India supporter, was wearing a bright orange wig.

He said he was still processing the fact that this was happening.

“We wanted to go to all the India-Pakistan games [over the years], but being in the U.S., we couldn’t travel and couldn’t go,” he said. “We are so excited.”

Buran Baru of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, held up a sign announcing that he had paid $1,300 for his ticket, around the going rate on the secondary market.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a game like this,” he said. “Nothing can beat this one. It’s like the Super Bowl. This is an awesome experience.”

Fans of Pakistan celebrate a score against India during the...

Fans of Pakistan celebrate a score against India during the T20 Cricket World Cup at Eisenhower Park on Sunday. Credit: James Carbone

It was not the Super Bowl in the sense that it was a mere group stage match. The Cup final is later this month in Barbados.

But given the sides’ cricket rivalry, the countries’ complicated geopolitical history and the novelty of them facing each other in the U.S., it was super in its own way.

India players said they got a kick out of looking into the stands and having it feel as if they were back home on the other side of the world.

Rain dampened the mood early on, causing two delays in starting the match, then a suspension of play. The action did not begin for good until noon.

All the matches in East Meadow were scheduled for 10:30 a.m., to align with mid-afternoon TV audiences in Europe and prime-time ones in South Asia.

But between the delays, fans sang and cheered, after lining up six deep to try to get a glimpse of the team buses arriving. It was a cricket party.

Official attendance was 34,028, the largest for an international cricket match in the United States.

Nassau County executive Bruce Blakeman spoke in the press box during the match and reveled in how well the marquee event of Long Island’s eight-match slate was going.

“I’m going to be honest with you: I got chills coming in here today,” he said. “It has exceeded my expectations. It’s a spectacle, and it’s a world-class sports event.”

Blakeman praised fans for being “polite and respectful” and lauded the many local, state and federal law enforcement entities who played a part in security, including a massive contingent from the Nassau County Police Department.

“It’s all hands on deck,” he said.

He also said that even after expenses, the county would “make a fortune from this . . . We are laying out money, but we are getting it back tenfold, in my estimation. This is the kind of marketing and advertising that money can’t buy.”

India next plays on Wednesday against the United States. A U.S. victory would be an even bigger upset than the one the Americans secured over Pakistan in Texas last week.

But for casual fans of the sport — or those who are not fans at all — the spectacle is the thing more than the results, and on Sunday it was glorious.

Long Island is many decades removed from its days as a quiet, insular, suburban outpost. The wider world now is part of our world.

That part is not news. The news is that now more of the world knows it.


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