Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024


NEW DELHI: In the early hours of Sunday, the world’s biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad witnessed a sea of sleepless, flag-waving fans clad in blue India jerseys, eagerly anticipating the grand World Cup final showdown against traditional powerhouse Australia. Excitement reverberated through the city’s clogged roads as fans, too enthralled to sleep, honked, shouted slogans, and bargained with hawkers in the build-up to the afternoon finale.
The 132,000-seat arena, named after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is the epicentre of cricket’s showpiece tournament, concluding with a blockbuster clash between cricket-crazy hosts India and Australia.With attendees hailing from various corners of India and across the globe, the city is bustling, with some hotels reportedly charging rates ten times higher than usual.

In a quest to secure accommodations, reports surfaced of fans approaching local religious institutions for overnight stays in subsidised dormitories designated for devout pilgrims. Others engaged in candlelit vigils, offering prayers for the triumph of their beloved team.

Suresh Raval, a local resident outside the stadium, likened the atmosphere to a “big Hindu festival” with families and friends celebrating in the streets. Confident in India’s unbeaten streak, Raval and his friend, who were fortunate to secure tickets, admitted to finding it hard to sleep.
While many fans have reportedly paid exorbitant amounts, up to 20 times the face value of the cheapest ticket, the financial strain seems insignificant if India secures victory. Vijay Kumar, a fan from Andhra Pradesh, expressed joy at the festival-like atmosphere outside the stadium, emphasising the shared hope and nervous excitement among attendees.

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles prepare to witness the game, the packed stadium will host an air force flypast, a dazzling light and laser show, and hundreds of dancers performing Bollywood hits between innings.
Sahil Khanna, a fan from New Delhi, highlighted the festive ambiance, stating, “All the song and dance is good, but we are here for the game — and happy as long as India keeps winning.”

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Amid the celebratory atmosphere, security forces in large numbers were deployed to ensure the safety of the 130,000 fans within the stadium and the tens of thousands more flooding the streets in the event of an Indian victory, as dreams and expectations reach fever pitch.
(With inputs from AFP)


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