NEW DELHI: There have been too few fans, too many injuries and lots of runs over the first four days of the Cricket World Cup.

AFP Sport looks at three talking points:

Is there anybody there?

It’s the sport’s showpiece event in a cricket crazy country with millions of diehard fans expected to be jostling for tickets.

However, the opening four matches of the marathon seven-week tournament were played in eerily empty arenas.

Organisers optimistically estimated around 40,000 fans watched the opener between New Zealand and England at the 132,000-seater Ahmedabad Stadium, the world’s largest cricket ground.

When South Africa were shattering records on Saturday against Sri Lanka, around 10,000 fans watched inside New Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium which can welcome around 40,000 people.

“Crowds are looking very poor at the World Cup Surely we should be giving tickets away to make sure the stands are full?” said former England captain Michael Vaughan.

Pakistan fans desperate to watch their team in Hyderabad have been frustrated in delays to the granting of visas.

On Sunday, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced they were releasing 14,000 tickets for the blockbuster October 14 clash between India and Pakistan in Ahmedabad.

Williamson to miss second game of World Cup

The date of that match had already been brought forward a day due to security fears, causing eight other games to be rescheduled, sparking chaos for fans who had already booked flights and hotels.

The lack of fans will spark more questions over the long-term future of the World Cup in the face of competition from its brash cousin, the Twenty20 format.

Records fall

It’s early days but India’s famously batting-friendly pitches have been as generous as ever.

New Zealand’s Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra both cracked centuries in the opening day win over champions England.

Quinton de Kock, Rassie van der Dussen and Aiden Markram all made centuries for South Africa in their 102-run win against Sri Lanka.

It was the first time a team had boasted three centurions in the same innings.

Markram set a new record for the fastest World Cup century coming off 49 balls while South Africa’s 428-5 was the highest ever total made in tournament history.

Sri Lankan bowlers Matheesha Pathirana (1-95) and Kasun Rajitha (1-90) conceded more than 180 runs between them from 20 overs.

Sri Lanka’s reply of 326 all out made the game in New Delhi the highest-scoring World Cup match.

The first four days also saw 12 fifties made, including by Virat Kohli (85) and KL Rahul (97 not out) after India slumped to 2-3 chasing 200 to defeat Australia on Sunday.

Injuries and missing ‘messiah’

England’s defence of their title started without talismanic batsman Ben Stokes who has been hit by a hip injury to add to the long-standing knee issue which prevents him from bowling.

Stokes, the star of the epic 2019 World Cup final victory over New Zealand at Lord’s, arrived in India having made an England record score of 182 in an ODI against the Kiwis last month.

“He’s not Superman. It’s not all just about the messiah Stokesy coming back and him doing everything,” said teammate Mark Wood after Thursday’s nine-wicket loss to the Black Caps in Ahmedabad.

Sri Lanka have also been hit hard by injuries with frontline leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga and fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera sitting out the entire event while finger spinner Maheesh Theekshana sat out the defeat by Sri Lanka.

Five-time champions Australia also have batsman Travis Head “sitting on a couch in Perth” hoping his broken hand will heal in time for the later stages.

The Aussies almost lost wrist spinner Adam Zampa to a freak accident when he swam into the wall of the pool at the team hotel, an embarrassing mishap which left him a “bit sore”, said captain Pat Cummins.


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