After a month and a half of traveling across and across the country, the World Cup convoy has reached Ahmedabad for the last time. Back at the venue where the tournament kicked off on October 5, the setting was perfect for the spectacle. Great scene.
Unbeaten India reached the final thanks to some impressive performances in their 10 matches, and faced a powerful Australian side, who had rediscovered their mojo after a poor start.
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There were two great teams battling it out for ultimate glory at the Narendra Modi Stadium – the largest in the world – in front of at least a thousand spectators. First, the number of spectators was down by over 7,000, then the 92,453 spectators wore a distant look and were not as turned on as the ones we saw in centers like Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai. They were noisy, as they were bound to be when so many of them came together in the same place, when Indian batsmen hit boundaries or when bowlers picked up a wicket but remained separated for most of the contest.
Spectators kept waiting for signals from the DJ or movement in the middle to make the move. For the remainder of the match, they sat like ducks either taking selfies or recording live events for a potentially viral Instagram magazine. To be fair to them, it was very tidy in the stands with the majority coming from different parts of the country via last minute ticket draws. They did not have the connection with the business as seen in traditional centres. Above all, they continue to be partisan. As was the case in the match against Pakistan on October 14.
Mumbai had a different buzz with its chants for different players and even coach Rahul Dravid, Chennai’s brilliance was on display during the India vs. Australia and Pakistan vs. Afghanistan matches, Kolkata had its own way of sparking a Mexican wave without a sign, and Delhi came out in droves. Even for non-Indian matches at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, they made their presence felt. Ahmedabad did not witness any of this, nor did anyone feel it.
There are occasions when bigger isn’t always better, and the final was a classic example of that. The final was perhaps the only occasion on which Virat Kohli, despite thousands in the stands, walked out to a dismal response. Jasprit Bumrah had to wait for the DJ’s signal to hear “Boom, boom Bumrah” echoing in the stands, and Mohammed Shami did not. . “I don’t hear his name very often. For most of Rohit Sharma’s stormy knocks, it was only boundaries and sixes that got the crowd going. They rarely said ‘Rohit, Rohit’ when the opposition player was on follow-up. It was common everywhere India played before final match.
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Not that it would have tipped the match in India’s favour, but crowd support can shake even the best in the field, and the mighty Aussies were no different. They took into account the crowd factor, but the crowd was not disciplined enough to make the right noise.
Pat Cummins spoke about this in the pre-match press conference and Marnus Labuschagne said there was tension while waiting to bat but Australia made sure to keep thousands silent throughout most of the match as fans remained waiting for a signal from the DJ who also lacked the hype and spark of what was the grandest match of the tournament. .
This World Cup will be remembered for so many great matches, India’s decisive campaign and Australia’s title, but certainly not for the spectators at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
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First published: 20 November 2023 at 08:46 IST
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