Bringing ‘Battle Mohali’ to Karachi

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KARACHI – Mutual respect and the basic spirit of fair play seem to have taken a back seat in the run up to what is being dubbed as ‘the battle of Mohali’. So much so that owners of several major sports shops in the city have been forced to take India cricket team jerseys off their shelves amidst serious threats.
“Bibi, kiuN merwana chaah rahi haiN? (Why do you want to get us in trouble),” the owner of a shop in Saddar said. “We do not carry Indian cricket team jerseys.” After some coaxing, he finally admitted that the jerseys had been pushed to the dark corners of warehouses earlier this week after some groups of young men who had come to his shop ostensibly to buy Pakistan team jerseys saw them.
“They got really angry, then they became verbally abusive, and then they tried to physically attack my salesperson,” he said. “This wasn’t a one-off incident either. Although this was the only group that manhandled my staff, other customers have been verbally abusive at the sight of Indian team jerseys and walked out without buying anything.”
At some shops, the situation was direr. “We were threatened,” a salesperson at another shop in Saddar said. “We were told to keep these jerseys out of sight, ‘or else’. We decided to send them back to our storehouses, at least until every one calms down. Not many people want them anyway, and its not worth the trouble.”
The owner of one store in Clifton, however, said he wasn’t threatened, but took the jerseys off the shelves of his own volition. “I understand sportsmanship and all, but please, not this week. I couldn’t bring myself to carry anything but Pakistan team jerseys this week. Sporting spirit etc will resume after we win tomorrow,” he said with a smile.
Sales, meanwhile, have been ‘insane’, he maintained while he tried to deal with a shop full of customers, all of whom wanted the same thing – in various sizes, of course. “Please tell me you have these jerseys in kids’ sizes. I want one for my two-year-old daughter, and one for my four-year-old son,” one customer demanded.
“Every morning for the past week, we’ve received fresh stocks. Within hours, they’re gone,” the shop owner said. “People aren’t even arguing over prices – that’s a first! The spirit has been amazing. Its like a party in here every day until stocks last.”
Every Pakistan team jersey which is being sold now, meanwhile, has the number 10 – the same as Pakistan Captain Shahid Afridi. “Other numbers rarely sell now. Everyone wants ‘Lala’s shirt’,” the shop owner explained. “Its like he’s the only player on the team. I hope we do well tomorrow!”