Birmingham: The road that leads to the pavilion at the Edgbaston Cricket Stadium wore an almost deserted look as hosts England and Australia clashed in the second semi-final of the 2019 World Cup on Thursday.
Team Indias ouster from the tournament on Wednesday seems to have impacted the overall interest in the showpiece event as well.
After all, for the Indians who had booked tickets to check who would qualify and play India — had Virat Kohli and boys made it to the final — were no longer interested at the outcome of this game.
Even during the toss, there were plenty of vacant seats on display as England skipper Eoin Morgan and Australia captain Aaron Finch walked up to meet Ian Bishop and the match referee Ranjan Madugalle standing.
Speaking to IANS, one of the volunteers working for the organising committee of the World Cup said that it was hard to believe that two of the oldest rivals were clashing in a knockout game.
“Minus India, it seems almost dead. For the India versus England game at this very ground a few days back, it was jam-packed. We had a tough time managing the excited Indian crowd. They wanted to see the players enter the stadium, they wanted to click photos all around the stadium, it was mayhem.
“And today, even an hour into the gates opening, there were hardly any people walking in. Yes, it is in the middle of the week, but trust me had this been an India game or if India were still in the competition, things would have definitely been different,” the volunteer said.
Reminiscing the Champions Trophy final between India and Pakistan in 2017, the volunteer said queues had started outside the stadium four or five hours before the game started, but this year’s World Cup final wouldn’t be that big.
“I was there when India played Pakistan in the final of the Champions Trophy. It was crazy how fans had lined up outside the stadium hours before the gates opened. This passion among the fans in India and Pakistan makes them special. Don’t think you will see such craziness at the final this time round,” the volunteer rued.
Clearly, India rules not only on the field, but also off it when it comes to the gentleman’s game.
(Baidurjo Bhose can be contacted at email@example.com)