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AHMEDABAD: India’s six-wicket loss to Australia in the final of the Cricket World Cup in Ahmedabad Sunday left tens of thousands of fans heartbroken and in frantic search of a new plan for the night ahead.

Having braved the long, colourful and festive queues for hours early Sunday to get into the ground, many started leaving the stadium in droves by the 35th over of Australia’s chase as the result became obvious.

The grand 132,000-seat arena is the world’s biggest cricket ground and named after Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The home team, which entered the final unbeaten and favourites to win a third title, could only set a below-par 241 target for Australia to chase.

“I am returning to my home in Mumbai now,” said Jine Shah, 40, who left the stadium when Australia still needed 49 runs to win their sixth World Cup title.

“I’d have stayed here and in the city if we were winning, but what’s the reason now?” he asked.

‘Want to sleep now’

Rajiv Kumar, 25, who planned to “celebrate through the night after India’s expected win”, couldn’t pinpoint what went wrong with the team.

“They have been so good throughout this tournament, the best, and I don’t know what happened today,” he said.

“I just want to go back to my hotel to sleep and not think of this now if possible,” Kumar added.

While thousands of Indian fans left their seats, Roelof Hugo, 51, a South African cricket fan from Paarl, stuck around for the final formalities.

Before this game “I didn’t think that anyone could defeat India” on their current form, Hugo told AFP.

Hugo felt that Australia’s bowling and fielding made the difference in the all-important game.

World Cup thrills cannot erase future ODI concerns

“We stayed back for the final even after” South Africa’s elimination “because India reached the finals and we wanted to see them win over Australia today,” he added.

Jacob Diaz, 33, from Arizona in the United States, watched his first cricket game with his friend Parvathi Subramanian, 33, and described it as a “good introduction to the game”.

“We would have stuck around at the stadium if the result was not a foregone conclusion. I expected India to play much better,” said Subramanian.

‘A big loss’

Outside the stadium, on the packed arterial roads, the mood was sombre and a far cry from the loud and excited atmosphere before the start of the match.

Thousands of fans paid over the odds for travel, hotels and tickets because of high demand.

One of many young groups of friends discussed if they still wanted to explore the city’s famous food stalls or return to their hotels for a quiet night.

“This is a big loss after the way we played over the last few weeks,” Surinder Singh from Mumbai said.

India, with its booming economy and cricket-crazy fans, is the financial powerhouse of the game but they last won the World Cup back in 2011.

“I don’t know what to do now,” Rajinder Singh, who came from Delhi told AFP.

“It feels so sad and empty as the World Cup has come to an end and we didn’t win it.”


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