The gates were thrown open an hour early at the Dubai International Stadium on Wednesday and already there were queues of people standing in the 44-degree heat on the edge of taxiclogged roads.
Cricket’s call to the faithful had been loud and clear and the congregation was growing.
Unlike in previous matches in the Asia Cup, this time you did not have to ask some entering the ground who they were supporting.
Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan scored centuries as India strolled to victory against a hapless Pakistani side. Faced with a target of 238 to chase, Rohit and Shikhar put up an opening stand of 210 within 34 overs to flatten the opponents.
They were helped by some lax fielding and dropped catches from Pakistan early on. Rohit, in the process, completed 7000 ODI runs, becoming just the ninth Indian player to do so. Shikhar Dhawan, on the other hand scored his 15th ODI ton before being run out.
Shaheen Afridi was the only man who managed to trouble the batsmen a little bit but the one chance he got was wasted thanks to a dropped catch.
With the lights allowing the ball to come on to the bat better and with there being no swing whatsoever for the Pakistani pacers, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma took them on a merry ride.
Shikhar scored 114 off 100 balls before being run out in a rather clumsy fashion. Rohit Sharma then easily finished his 19th ODI ton and walked India home alongwith Ambati Rayudu.
The war or words is sometimes so sharp that the humour wears off. When Hardik Pandya is stretchered off after a horrific lower-back injury, one Pakistani crosses the line.
“This is what happens when you play in air-conditioned England and then take rest against Hong Kong before you play Pakistan.” He is immediately restrained by his friends, Pakistani and Indian alike.
But the wound is fresh and it’s an Indian’s turn to say something silly when Shoaib is run out by a direct hit from Ambati Rayudu. “If you pay 100 rupees the batsman will throw his wicket and come back.”
The offender is literally put in his place, forced to sit down and shut up, which is just as well as the action is heating up on the field. From 81 for 85 for 2 Pakistan have slumped to 121 for 7. Pakistan end on 162, a severely underpar score. And India did not have to try too hard to chase it down.