Often touted as the ‘Mother of all Battles’ – India vs Pakistan encounter always generate buzz irrespective of which part of the world it is being held at. The much-anticipated clash between Indian and Pakistan on June 16 at the Old Trafford, Manchester will add another chapter to the historic rivalry. Keeping in mind the relevance and importance of the high-octane battle, the security has been given a major boost for the Indo-Pak encounter. In the history of Old Trafford, the armed officers will form part of the most complex police operation ever.
If we go in the details, more than 5 lakh people applied for the 25,000 tickets on offer for the June 16 fixture. The match is expected to take place amidst immense political tension between the two nations. However, the authorities have remained tight-lipped over the numbers for operational reasons as a large number of officers has been deployed for this fixture than for any other in the city during the tournament.
Manchester is amongst the six English cities that will receive international teams for the showpiece event that begins from May 30. Greater Manchester Police has been aware of fixture’s potential threat to attract those who may wish to commit sinful activities or acts of terrorism. The forces will keep a close eye on well-populated areas around the stadium as supporters arrive and depart, while vehicle barriers will be put up.
Currently, there is no intelligence to suggest that things may boil over in the crowd — 80 percent of which will be made up of people from around the United Kingdom. The last time India and Pakistan played each other was during the Champions Trophy final at The Oval in 2017. Police have examined the situation between the local Indian and Pakistani communities and have found no rise in hate crime, despite the rising political tensions.
“It is definitely going to be huge. Last year when India played against England in a T20 match here, it was a gorgeous sunny day and the crowd was predominantly Indian. The stadium was painted with Indian colours and the Bharat Army was very noisy. It was a great game of cricket and India was far too good and the atmosphere was amazing and it’s going to be even louder for the India-Pakistan Game,” said Dan Whitehead, Corporate Sales and Business Development Manager at Cricket Lancashire.
According to Cricket Lancashire, 70 percent of the inquiries for the India-Pakistan match have come from India and the tickets were sold-out within 48 hours. “Because of the huge demand, we created more packages and at this very moment, we have only 200 packages left for those who would like to still make it for the big game,” said Whitehead.
Besides the India-Pakistan Match, Manchester will also host the India-West Indies match.