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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 March, 2004, 13:53 GMT
Media unite to laud cricket epic
Cricket fans in Karachi
Police praised the impeccable behaviour of Karachi fans
The day after the first match of India's historic cricket tour of Pakistan, the media in both countries united in praise of the spectacle.

India won a thrilling one-day international in Karachi by five runs in a match that saw nearly 700 scored.

Pakistan's The Dawn newspaper said: "No one could have scripted a better start to the series."

The Indian Express headline was: "If this is day one, if this is cricket, just bring it on."

Anti-climax fear

While the Pakistani papers lauded the feast of cricket, the team itself was not spared criticism.

The Dawn said Pakistan's much-touted pace attack had given away too many runs.

But its cricket writer, Omar Kureishi, preferred to look forward.

The [England v Australia] Ashes rivalry pales before this
Sunil Gavaskar

"There is a feast waiting for the cricket fans of Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Lahore. Karachi has raised the bar," he wrote.

"Will the rest of the matches be an anti-climax?"

The Nation had praise for the opponents, saying: "This Indian side does not panic even when it is pushed to the wall."

The News announced: "Cricket the winner as India edge past Pakistan in historic clash."

It went on: "Both teams ensured a full house and millions on both sides of the border were treated to a dramatic run feast as well as a pulsating finish."

Indian papers blanketed their front pages with coverage.

The Hindustan Times headline was: "Going... Going... Won."

Good behaviour

Indian cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar's newspaper column read: "Now you know what cricket-lovers missed all these years. Now you know why the [England v Australia] Ashes rivalry pales before this."

Indian soldiers in Kashmir
Indian soldiers in Kashmir celebrated the victory in Karachi

The papers singled out Indian bowler Ashish Nehra, who conceded just three runs in the final over.

One paper even described what his dog was doing during the finale.

Hundreds of millions of fans tuned in to television coverage of the match, which opened the first tour of Pakistan by India since 1989.

Police in Karachi had nothing but praise for the fans in the 33,000-capacity National Stadium.

In a city where 4,000 people have died in sectarian violence in the past five years, not a stone was thrown and no anti-India chants were heard despite Pakistan's defeat.

Shopkeeper Mohammad Usman told AFP: "Peace and not merely cricket won in Karachi on Saturday."

TV concern

However, one cloud remains on the horizon for Indian fans.

The Indian Supreme Court meets on Monday to decide whether the owner of the tour broadcasting rights, Ten Sports, should allow state-run TV to show the rest of the series.

The court issued an 11th-hour ruling on Friday to allow state-run Doordarshan to broadcast the Karachi game.

The cricket tour comes on the back of a warming of relations between India and Pakistan, since an attack on the Indian parliament in 2001.

India broke off diplomatic and other links with Pakistan after the attack and the two sides came close to all-out war in the summer of 2002, with hundreds of thousands of soldiers massed along their borders.

International pressure forced both sides to back down and a ceasefire has been in place since late last year.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars, two of them over the disputed region of Kashmir.

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