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Cup Extras: Ecstatic ending for emotionally drained India fans

Last updated on: March 25, 2011 12:21 IST

Ecstatic ending for emotionally drained India fans

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In the end it all paid off for the 48,000 fans who braved intense heat and fought their way through heavy security to watch India play Australia at the Sardar Patel Stadium on Thursday.

They had come to witness Sachin Tendulkar score his 100th international century and an Indian quarter-final victory over the defending champions.

- Tendulkar tops 18,000 ODI runs

Although Tendulkar was dismissed after a well-made half-century, the crowd still left content after India's five-wicket victory put an end to an era of Australian World Cup domination.

Caps came off heads and were thrown into the air while shirts were torn off bodies and twirled with breathtaking speed and agility as India reached their target.

- Players gave more than 100 per cent: Dhoni

To top it all, Thursday's victory ensured the best World Cup contest they could imagine with a semi-final against Pakistan next Wednesday.

The boisterous crowd chanted "We want Pakistan. We want Pakistan" time and again and were emotionally involved in every shot that was played, every run that was saved, and every catch that was taken.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting's appeal for a catch, after it appeared to reach him on the first bounce, excited the crowd's wrath once they had seen the replay on the big screen.

The same man who had received a vociferous cheer after completing his hundred was greeted with boos and chants of "cheater, cheater".

But it was not party time for the crowd throughout the day as India faltered on their victory path.

The crowd fell silent once Tendulkar walked off after edging Shaun Tait to Brad Haddin behind the stumps and the collective gasps and sighs reverberated around the stadium when Gautam Gambhir survived two runout reprieves. They turned to loud groans when he finally ran himself at the third attempt.

Nineteen runs later, when captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was also out, a few decided they had had enough and started walking off with the victory still 74 runs away.

"I was planning to go home after MS (Dhoni) got out. In fact, one of my friends left the stadium. Thank God I stayed back," 19-year old Bhuvan Patel, draped in an Indian jersey, told Reuters after the match.

He would have done better to thank Yuvraj Singh, who kept his cool to guide India home.

While Yuvraj crashed the ball into the advertising hoarding behind the boundary, the crowd erupted in a decibel level that would have given a serious scare to the sound pollution control authorities.


Image: Indian cricket fans hold up a banner during the quater-final match between India and Australia in Ahmedabad on Thursday
Photographs: Reuters
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Boycott causes outrage by criticising depressed Yardy

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Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott criticised all-rounder Michael Yardy for quitting the team midway through the World Cup due to depression but had to back down from his comments after causing an outrage.

- Adil Rashid to replace Yardy

"I'm surprised, very surprised," Boycott said after being told about Yardy's decision to head home just days before the quarter-final clash against Sri Lanka.

"But he must have been reading my comments about his bowling, it must have upset him. Obviously it was too much for him at this level. If any blame is attached it's partly to the selectors because I'm sorry, he's not good enough at this level," he told the BBC 5 Live.

"I'm sorry, on good pitches you're not going to hold good players down and if it turns he doesn't spin it well enough to get them out. So, for me, he was always going to be a liability or a poor choice at international level out here."

- Ponting's prediction: India will win the World Cup

His comments caused an outrage among fans and mental health charities and institutions with a BBC presenter acknowledging that the station received "quite a lot of people complaining about that."

Boycott later mellowed his comments and said he is not qualified to speak on Yardy's mental state as he has never battled depression himself.

"He's got to go home then but for me it's very difficult. I'm no doctor and I don't understand about depression and I can't comment on it," he said.

"It's obviously very sad. But I'm not a medical man, so I can't tell you what it's like to be depressed. I've been lucky, I've been good enough ... until you've had depression I don't think you're qualified to talk about it," he added.


Image: Michael Yardy
Photographs: Reuters
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