The Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad saw an exodus of Indian cricket fans long before Australia hit the winning runs.
Mumbai, India – A deafening silence and rows of empty seats: the Cricket World Cup 2023 ended the same way it had started.
The Narendra Modi Stadium in India’s western state of Gujarat saw an exodus of fans long before Australia hit the winning runs in Sunday’s final.
The Aussies are now six-time winners of the title. For hosts India, who reached the final after 10 unbeaten matches, a dream died.
“I was quite excited about the match as it was my first time watching India at the World Cup, but it just wasn’t our day,” Sriraj Namboodiri told Al Jazeera from Ahmedabad over telephone.
The much-anticipated final had been a topic of discussion across the cricket-obsessed South Asian nation, where people thronged restaurants, pubs and cafes for public screenings of the India-Australia clash.
But as the Indian players stumbled and stared at defeat, thousands of fans in the 100,000-plus-capacity stadium began to leave their seats before the game ended – a sorry image after India’s flawless route to the final.
“The crowd at the stadium was really bad. I didn’t enjoy the experience,” said Namboodiri, who had come to watch the game with his brother from Mumbai.
“Had the match been in Chennai or Mumbai, most fans would have stayed back until the end for the presentation ceremony. After all, this was a World Cup final, the biggest match in world cricket and it was happening on our home soil.
“As a cricket fan, you would stay. If you’re leaving, it’s only because you are a fake fan.”