Global fans descend on Narendra Modi Stadium for India-Pakistan match

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Chants of Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ reverberated around the Narendra Modi Stadium here as charged-up fans entered the venue of the World Cup match between arch-rivals India and Pakistan on Saturday.


It was not just Indians or Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) who turned up in large numbers to cheer for Team India, but also foreign nationals from countries like the US and New Zealand eagerly waited since morning to enter the stadium and be a part of the electric atmosphere inside.


Rob and Patrick, who were wearing T-shirts resembling the Indian cricket team’s jerseys, came all the way from New Zealand to watch this epic battle between the neighbours.


We are big cricket fans and landed in India yesterday from New Zealand. Though we support Pakistan’s cricket team too, we will today support only India and that’s why we are wearing an Indian T-shirt. This is going to be very exciting, said Patrick.


While many fans came prepared wearing the Indian team’s blue-coloured T-shirts and caps, others purchased the attire from hundreds of roadside vendors near the stadium. According to one such seller, people are also buying Indian tricolor flags and tricolor headscarves to cheer their favourite team.


The high-profile contest has also given an opportunity to many local youngsters and children to make some quick bucks by painting tricolour on the faces of cricket fans for Rs 50 each.


Fans from Surat, Vadodara, Indore, Pune, Kolhapur, Chandigarh, Patna, and other parts of India have arrived in large numbers to watch the match.


Though a majority of them preferred to sport blue T-shirts, many could be seen in traditional Gujarati attires, outfits resembling the Tricolour, and custom-made dresses to draw the attention of cameramen covering the event.


Our group came from Indore in Madhya Pradesh. We are confident that India will score over 400 runs while Virat Kohli will hit a century. As per our estimate, nearly 10,000 spectators are from Indore or from other parts of Madhya Pradesh, said an excited spectator before the match started.


Later, Indian skipper Rohit Sharma won the toss and chose to bowl.


Members of a group, waving Shivaji Maharaj’s flag, said they came from Pune and Kolhapur of Maharashtra.


Another group of fans said they were from Chandigarh.


We came from Chandigarh because this match is bigger than the World Cup final. If we win this match, we will not mind even if we lose the finals. We will celebrate Diwali today if India wins. We are confident that India will repeat the magic of 2011 when we won the World Cup under Dhoni, said D P Singh.


A fan from Uttar Pradesh said he was so confident about India’s chances of reaching the finals that he had already purchased the ticket for the World Cup final to be played at this venue.


Manoj Jaiswal from Kolkata became an instant hit among the crowd due to his unique custom-made attire of a large coat and a tall hat having photos of Indian players and coach Rahul Dravid.


I am a big fan of Rahul Dravid and I met him several times in the past. I told him that though India never won the World Cup under his captaincy, we will definitely win under his mentorship as our coach. He also loves my passion for cricket and that is why he provides me passes to watch matches, claimed Jaiswal, adding that he will watch every match India will play.


Srikant Singh from Odisha is also a popular face among cricket fans for getting his body and face painted in tricolours.


According to sources in the police department, some suspected pickpockets and three to four persons trying to sell match tickets to desperate fans outside the stadium were nabbed and taken to police station for questioning.


In view of the huge demand, hotel room rates in the city have skyrocketed with some places charging close to Rs 25,000 to even Rs 1 lakh for one night.


Rates on various hotel booking websites suggest that unprecedented demand led to the sharp surge in room tariffs for October 14. Room rentals have gone up nearly 10 times, with some hotels charging close to Rs 1 lakh, while many were already sold out for the day.


Sources said some ingenious fans came up with the unusual idea of booking hospital beds for a day under the pretext of seeking medical examination. The cost of the hospital stay would be much less than what hotels were charging, said a source with a chuckle.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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