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PAKage tour



Pakistan cricket supporter Jaleel. — Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.

ABDUL JALIL `Chacha' made sure that he was noticed. The tall man with that very prominent white beard stood before the entrance of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi, with a group of youngsters crowding around him. "I came from Bangalore by bus. Reached here this morning and came straight to the stadium. India has been wonderful. This series has been exciting," he said. And when asked who he thought would win the first match of this one-day series, the `Pakistan brand ambassador' was suave enough to answer, "fifty-fifty."

One of cricket's most colourful characters is this `Chacha' from Sialkot, Pakistan, this 57-year-old cricket enthusiast has the reputation of being Pakistan's number one fan and since 2000, has been sponsored by his country's Cricket Board and Super Asia Washing Machine Company.

Jalil Chacha has been an avid supporter of the Pakistan cricket team. Sure enough, he arrived in Kochi after watching the first two Test matches. The regret in missing Inzamam's Test hundred was obvious but Jalil is elated that Inzy managed to hit a hundred in his hundredth Test match.

Miandad's six

Jalil first attracted media attention at Sharjah (he was a regular there too) while he was working at Abu Dhabi. He invariably lists Javed Miandad's last ball six off Chetan Sharma as the best match he's witnessed. "Chetan Sharma always rues the fact that I consider that match the best, but Miandad's heroic effort can never be erased from memory."

The saddest match for him is the India-Pakistan encounter during the World Cup in South Africa. "Pakistan capitulated without a fight and I was very depressed after that."

This telegenic cricket enthusiast bust up his savings by 2000 before he managed to get a sponsorship from the Pakistan Cricket Board. Super Asia joined in as co-sponsor and since then Jalil has been able to travel all over the world waving the Pakistan flag at international venues.

Cricket and statistics

Cricket and statistics generally go together. Jalil has achieved a rare distinction of being present at the past three World Cup fixtures. He rooted for Pakistan in 1996, 1999 and 2003. He has watched more than 350 Test and one-day matches since his first ever cricket match.

His favourite players include Majid Khan, Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, and among the present crop, Inzamam-ul Haq and Younis Khan. His favourite Indian cricketers are Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble. Jalil's unique cheerleading style includes pepping up players with couplets from films or advertising slogans, sometimes from family planning ads. This genial and affable man makes friends with co-spectators easily. Jalil has been a former club level cricketer himself. "I used to be an all-rounder. With my towering personality, I could easily pass off as a fast bowler," he grins.

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