Cricket-mad India readies for World Cup final against Australia in 132,000-seat venue
AHMEDEBAD, India (AP) — India, a country of 1.4 billion people, will come to a virtual standstill on Sunday when its cricket team led by Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli takes on five-time champion Australia in the Cricket World Cup final.
It will be played at Narendra Modi Stadium, the world’s largest cricket venue with a seating capacity of 132,000. It was commissioned in 2015 and built with the purpose of hosting the tournament final eight years later. In the process it will likely set a world cricket attendance record.
From Chennai to Dharamsala and Mumbai to Kolkata, India has played in front of partisan crowds during the six-week tournament. The home side has channeled that weight of expectations and pressure to win 10 consecutive games — the only unbeaten team.
“We know it’s going to be a packed house,” said Australia captain Pat Cummins. “There’s going to be 130,000 fans here supporting India. So it’s going to be awesome. You have got to embrace it. The crowd will be very one sided, but also in sport, there’s nothing more satisfying than hearing a big crowd go silent. That’s the aim for us tomorrow.”
Kohli, not surprisingly, has been the focal point for this Indian performance. Now the foremost one-day international batter in history with 50 centuries, he has scored 711 runs in 10 innings at average of 101.57. It is an insurmountable tally, with Sharma (550 runs) and Australia’s David Warner (528) well behind.
India’s dominance in this World Cup, however, has been underlined by its bowling attack. Mohammed Shami has been the leader — 23 wickets in only six games. And Shami wasn’t in contention for the first four games when India opted for Hardik Pandya and Shardul Thakur/Ravichandran Ashwin.
Pandya’s left ankle injury ruled the allrounder out of the tournament and made more room for Shami. Also helping India was Jasprit Bumrah, who took 18 wickets in 10 games, while spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav chipped in with 31 wickets between them.
India’s bowling has been so impressive that it has yet to chase any total over 273 runs in this tournament and restricted the opposition to sub-100 scores twice and under-200 scores two other times. Among them,