SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — The University of the Pacific held a grand opening for its cutting-edge cricket pitch on campus, signaling a significant stride in integrating cultural diversity and enriching student experiences. The opening event featured an exhibition game, a reception showcasing traditional Indian cuisine, and captivating Bollywood dance performances.

Students at Pacific initiated a cricket club back in 2022, albeit they had to make do with games held in the confines of a gymnasium. With the inauguration of the new pitch, both students and community members can now relish the opportunity to reserve and enjoy the field, fostering a sense of inclusivity and community engagement.

The sport holds particular appeal among Pacific’s international student body, constituting nearly 13% of the university’s population. According to Niraj Chaudhary, the cricket club advisor and Pacific’s dean of the William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center, the growing Indian student population at the university has fueled the demand for cricket facilities. “A few years ago, our university had maybe about 15 students from India,” Chaudhary stated. “Now we have close to 500 students, and there’s one thing that’s very common among our students from India… they want to play cricket.”

Cricket, hailed as the second-most popular sport globally after soccer, is experiencing a resurgence in recognition. With the upcoming 2024 Cricket World Cup set to be hosted for the first time in the United States in June and the sport’s imminent return to the Olympics at the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles, its prominence is undeniable.

President Christopher Callahan’s journey near Ahmedabad, India last fall paved the way for the realization of the cricket pitch at Pacific. Responding to a proposition by Niraj Chaudhary, Callahan swiftly endorsed the idea, entrusting Chaudhary with its implementation.

The sentiment surrounding the grand opening was one of jubilation and appreciation, particularly among international students like Yusuf Ejaz ’24, who remarked, “Cricket is like a religion to us, and we appreciate the university putting in this cricket pitch. This is special to international students. It makes us feel like we are home.”

Furthermore, Riya Jain ’25, a fervent advocate for women’s participation in cricket, emphasized the importance of inclusivity within the sport. “Both cricket and dancing are integral parts of my life,” she stated. “While I cherish my passion for dance, I am equally dedicated to advocating for greater female representation in cricket.”

In attendance as a special guest was Consul General of India Dr. K. Srikar Reddy, who expressed optimism about the burgeoning relationship between India and the University of the Pacific. “This certainly will make more students from India consider the University of the Pacific. We appreciate how the university has embraced our culture, fostering a great friendship.”