Several hospitals have reported a sudden influx of patients booking check-up packages that include an overnight stay, conveniently coinciding with the World Cup’s most awaited match.This innovative approach to securing affordable accommodations has emerged due to the soaring hotel prices, which have skyrocketed up to 20 times their usual rates in anticipation of the game.
Tushar Patel, President of the Ahmedabad Medical Association, revealed to Reuters, “We have come across some cases of people coming to watch the India-Pakistan match also taking an appointment for health check-ups and staying in hospitals.”
However, the Ahmedabad Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association has discouraged its members from accommodating such fans, emphasising that “hospitals are not meant for non-patients,” according to its president, Bharat Gadhavi.
The cricketing rivalry between India and Pakistan is intensified by a history of three wars since their independence in 1947 and strained diplomatic relations, particularly following the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which India attributed to a Pakistani militant group.
While bilateral cricket between the two nations has been affected by geopolitical realities, the appetite for clashes in multi-team events remains insatiable. Both India and Pakistan have won their opening two matches in the tournament, setting the stage for an exciting showdown.
The demand for tickets was evident when the initial batch sold out within an hour of release in August, prompting the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to release an additional 14,000 tickets earlier this month.
Ahmedabad resident Hemish Patel shared his experience of securing tickets, saying, “We logged into the site with multiple devices. We constantly kept on refreshing the site and were able to book within 10 minutes after the sale of tickets began.” Patel and his friends were among the fortunate few.
The popularity of the event has led to ticket resale prices surging up to 25 times their face value, with local authorities taking action against the sale of fake tickets. Additionally, airfare has risen up to four times, and Indian railways have scheduled super-fast trains to link Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
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The Narendra Modi Stadium, with a capacity of 134,000, will serve as the perfect stage for this intense cricketing rivalry, having previously hosted former US President Donald Trump in 2020 and Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese earlier this year. Security measures are also stringent, with the city declared a “no-drone zone” for the match, and 11,000 security personnel deployed to ensure safety.
Although India has an impeccable 7-0 record against Pakistan in ODI World Cups, the rivalry represents an intense sporting spectacle, often referred to as “war minus the shooting.” Notably, players from both sides share good relations off the field, as demonstrated by gestures like Pakistan fast bowler Shaheen Afridi’s gift to Indian bowler Jasprit Bumrah for his newborn baby during the recent Asia Cup.
The match will hold special significance for Indian Liyakat Khan, whose daughter Samiya is married to Pakistan fast bowler Hasan Ali. Khan expressed his excitement at the prospect of reuniting with his family, and is quoted by the Indian Express newspaper saying, “My wife went to Pakistan in 2021 when my daughter was expecting her first child. We will meet again … I can’t wait to hold my grandchild.”
(With inputs from Reuters)