Himanshu Dubey

The Cricket World Cup 2011 is yet to take-off at full speed but cricket-crazy fans in India are enjoying every moment of the drag non-India group matches which are being played between the contrasting sides.

Be it Kenya-New Zealand or Australia-Zimbabwe, the contest was lopsided even before the first ball was bowled. Unlike the previous World Cup, where the minnows did manage to upset plans of some high-profile teams, that surprise element is absent in this one.

However, brave Dutch almost did it on Tuesday as England looked scratchy right from the start-bowlers leaked plenty of runs to start with and then English batsmen, with exception of skipper Andrew Strauss, looked out of sorts and huffed and puffed their way to eventually overpower Dutch.

Even though the results have been on expected lines so far but what has been eye-pleasing, is the large turnout all these matches had witnessed. Fans throng the stadia with lot of enthusiasm, cheering on top of their voices for the well-known international stars and the little-known, yet attractive and handsome young cricketers.

However, the distractions for the fans are numerous. The exams are at arm’s length, the tickets are not cheap and since the birth of T20, the length of the 50 over game is the biggest factor. The World Cup 2007 in West Indies was pathetic as it struggled to hold the crowd on their seats and players literally played with empty stands.

The significance of the fans cheering for their teams needs no amplification and Indians are not oblivious of the fact. So when Ryan ten Doeschate reached his hundred and looked skywards, the 10,000 people gathered at VCA stadium acknowledged his wonderful effort as they would do when Sachin or Sehwag raise their willow.

Crowd at Motera, Ahmedabad was no different. A direct-throw from Christopher Mpofu stationed at deep fine-leg, caught Aussie captain Ricky Ponting short of his ground and the decibel levels the crowd generated, thereby, made it look as the game is played in Harare and not Ahmedabad. Later, the fireworks from Shane Watson were equally rooted for and so was Shaun Tait’s fast and furious bowling spell.

The gusto for cricket is over-flowing among the fans. Right now it is not restricted to any country but only as long as India is not playing at home, because then the feeling of nationalism will take over the love for the game.