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Street cricket comes to life after dark during Ramadan

  • April 19, 2023

KARACHI: After midnight during Ramadan, makeshift floodlights transform a central Karachi basketball court into an urban cricket arena, where dozens of young Pakistani men chase taped-up tennis balls zipping through the night air.

Donkeys watch on from the outfield and goats rummage through nearby piles of rubbish, breaking occasionally for a pitch invasion.

“After the Taraweeh (special Ramadan prayers), people crave entertainment so that is why many play cricket,” batsman Waqas Danish told AFP. “They play all night, because some people can’t wake up for breakfast if they sleep.”

Tape-ball games are ubiquitous across Karachi’s streets throughout the year, but Ramadan sees night tournaments pop up in most neighbourhoods.

The uninitiated may struggle to unravel the mayhem of multiple overlapping matches in a cramped space, but for Karachi’s street cricketers, there is method in the madness.

The frenetic matches of between four and six overs per innings are concluded before sehri, the meal consumed ahead of daytime fasting.

They range from pick-up games on improvised concrete pitches to professional competitions on dusty ovals.

“The kids and youths can’t afford kits and all the accessories for playing hard-ball cricket, but they can easily afford the tape ball,” competition organiser Taqdeer Afridi told AFP in Karachi.

Money is often involved — even though gambling is illegal in Pakistan — and big-hitting mercenaries are occasionally lured from surrounding neighbourhoods to play under lights that craftily tap into overhead power lines.

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