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Pakistani fans compare favourably with the South Africans

AUCKLAND–March 7, 2015: Green was the colour holding sway at Auckland's Eden Park on Saturday as fans from Pakistan and South Africa created a festive ambience while their teams confronted each other in the ICC World Cup 2015. 

The Pakistani fans in all green occupied the eastern stand, rendering Urdu numbers to cheer on the men in green in the middle, matching the Afrikaans melodies from a nearby group of South Africa supporters.

"We are here to support Pakistan; they are in need of it," said Mohammad Umair who travelled from Sydney to watch this important Pool B clash. 

"We want our team to play the final," he added, hoping for a repeat of Pakistan's triumph at the 1992 World Cup when the tournament was last played in Australia and New Zealand.

His friend Rana Umer was busy getting his face painted with the Pakistan flag in one of the stalls outside the stadium.

"We are here to match the green and yellow colour kits of South Africans and none can match the cacophony we can create," said Rana.

Sufiyan Cheema had travelled all the way from Seoul in South Korea after watching Pakistan win their last two games after starting the tournament with two defeats.

"I waited and waited," said Cheema. "Since Pakistan lost the first two games I was reluctant to come this far, but once they won the next two I couldn't wait any more.

"Now I hope Pakistan will win the title," said Sufiyan.

"I don't get to watch cricket either on television or at the ground, so I thought that I must travel to New Zealand and Australia and for this I have been saving money for two years."

The boasting rights were not reserved for the Pakistanis alone. Many Proteas' supporters had made the long journey from South Africa to Eden Park, a venue better known to Springbok rugby fans who would have visited for some titanic clashes against New Zealand's famed world champions, the All Blacks.

"We will beat Pakistan on and off the field," said Louis Pretorious, from Stellenbosch.

Wearing an AB de Villiers shirt in honour of the Proteas captain, he added: "De Villiers is more than enough for the struggling Pakistanis."

On one side of the stadium a local music band, played Pakistani and South African songs in turn.

"This is a festive atmosphere," said Logan Pilley, from Johannesburg. "This is our first game as we wanted to first do sight-seeing and went to Tapu before watching the World Cup.

"We are confident that South Africa will go to Melbourne to play the final on March 29."

His friend Monty Ramratan echoed those feelings, with South Africa desperate to win a maiden World Cup title following a series of heart-breaking exits from previous editions.

"This is the best chance for South Africa to remove the tag of chokers and win the title," said Ramratan. "This bunch of players is too talented not to win the title."

Shaheen Khanum, who settled in Auckland 10 years ago, was accompanying her two sons and a daughter.

"We want to enjoy the match and the atmosphere," said Khanum. "It's a World Cup and I wanted my family to enjoy it because we have never been to a cricket match before."

For India's Suresh Kumar, it was a good game to watch, even though his country wasn't involved.

"I am waiting for India to come here and play, so before watching my team I thought I must gear up with the Pakistan-South Africa game.

"The atmosphere is great and highly enjoyable."