Ocean of Blue: All roads lead to Ahmedabad's Narendra Modi Stadium : The Tribune India

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World Cup Final

Ocean of Blue: All roads lead to Ahmedabad's Narendra Modi Stadium

Fans wearing India jersey, carrying Indian Flag, laughing, joking and anticipating an Indian win moving towards the stadium

Ocean of Blue: All roads lead to Ahmedabad's Narendra Modi Stadium

Fans arrive at the Narendra Modi Stadium to watch the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 final between India and Australia, in Ahmedabad on November 19, 2023. PTI


Ahmedabad, November 19

The buzz had reached its crescendo at least 24 hours before the ‘big match’ and with three and half hours to go before the start of the most awaited World Cup final, an ocean of blue seems to be travelling towards Motera.

The city of Ahmedabad has become the centre of the cricketing world. It seems as if the entire city is moving in one direction. The roads of Ahmedabad are full of energy and a bit of madness.

Fans wearing the India jerseys, carrying the Indian Flag, laughing, joking and anticipating an Indian win are moving towards the Narendra Modi stadium.

There are families, friends, children, adults, teenagers, middle aged and the senior citizen who have all painted the city blue.

The traffic moved at a very slow pace till Motera but comes to a complete halt near the stadium. You can’t move an inch if you don’t have a VIP car park pasted on your vehicle. A hologram is required to be pasted on the accreditation card as well as a part of SPG protocol since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian deputy PM Richard Marles will be in attendance.

The level of expectation from Rohit Sharma’s team has long crossed the critical limit of craziness.

The city is ready to explode as 1,32,000 capacity stadium won’t even have an inch of space left. The streets that lead to Narendra Modi Stadium’s main entry gate are lined with sellers of counterfeit India jerseys.

Little Hetwik, all of eight is a big Hardik Pandya fan as he is Gujarat Titans skipper. He wants a jersey with Pandya written on the back but gets disappointment.

“Only Virat, Rohit, Maxwell and Warner available,” the seller Qayamuddin said and started tending to other customers.

“Beta, wear Virat, you look smart in this,” the young father tried to persuade the kid whose eyes had already welled up.

This final has been God-send for Sheetal Ben, who has an ailing husband at home and the counterfeit industry has been her way of putting food on the table.

“I have been selling at-least 200 to 260 Virat Kohli jerseys and 150 Rohit along with India hat which is a big hit. During India vs Pakistan match, I earned around 30,000 in three days. That’s about what I will make in six months’ time when tournament is over. God bless Rohit and Virat. They run my kitchen,” Sheetal Ben said, smiling.

At-least 70,000 or more fans who have tickets aren’t the locals and have flown in from different parts of India and a few thousands are NRIs from UK, USA, Australia, Canada and Singapore, who have spent a bomb for a cricket vacation.

At least 20 charter flights with dignitaries, politicians, business men and Bollywood personalities are supposed to land in Ahmedabad for the game.

For the upmarket Indian elite, it’s not just about Virat’s cover drives or Bumrah’s Yorker but also being at a happening place and have their “I was there moment” under the sun.

Who’s who are booked at team hotel as the party will continue till wee hours of morning.

The tickets worth Rs 3500 is being sold at 30 times premium in black market while hospitality tickets have been sold in lakhs.

The hotel prices have shot through the roof. A few fans have decided to stay overnight at Ahmedabad railway station waiting room as they don’t have enough money to pay Rs 15,000 for one-night stay at a hotel. That’s the minimum rate available even at the ‘cheapest’ hotels.

“Sab behti sabarmati mein haath dho rahein hain,” remarked a fan.

For the past three days, the ITC Narmada five-star facility, where the national team is staying, has seen huge crowd gather in front of main gate.

“I saw Dravid, Rohit and that coach (Paras Mhambrey) the other night getting out of hotel,” a fan, who reached Narendra Modi Stadium as early as 11 am trying to beat the traffic, said.

The party had begun at 8:00am this morning and if India win, the celebrations will continue all night.

#Ahmedabad #Narendra Modi

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