Frenzied fans bat for India against defiant Ireland

March 6th, 2011 - 6:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, March 6 (IANS) Thousands of frenzied fans Sunday trooped into the Chinnaswamy stadium here to back co-hosts India against an upbeat Ireland in a Group B league match of the cricket World Cup.

In contrast to the forlorn look and near empty stands for the England-Ireland game Wednesday, a carnival-like atmosphere gripped the stadium, with hundreds of fans waving the tri-colour, sporting colour bands and wearing blue T-shirts to imitate their 11 men in blue in the middle.

After Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and elected to field, the Indian players were greeted with cheers and applause as they took positions to take on the fiery Irish batsmen.

And when speedster Zaheer Khan bowled out Irish opener Paul Stirling in the first over and Ed Joyce was caught behind by keeper Dhoni for 4 in third over, the stands were electrified with die-hard fans in raptures, hooting and dancing.

Unlike during the high-voltage India-England encounter last Sunday (Feb 27) when the atmosphere was surcharged with impatient fans storming into the stands to watch the home team bat first, an eerie calm and order prevailed as captain William Porterfield and keeper Niall O’Brien steadied the scoring.

In the pavilion stands, about 300 Irish fans in colourful dress and fancy caps were seen cheering their resurgent team, which scored an upset victory against a beleaguered England in the previous match with its all-rounder Kevin O’Brien scoring the fastest World Cup hundred.

With about 3,000 policemen swarming around the stadium to maintain vigil and chase away ticketless fans from gate-crashing, touts and blackmarketeers had a field day, making a quick buck by selling low-priced tickets to desperate spectators on the sly.

Though the main host Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) claimed that all tickets were sold out for the third day-night ODI in the city, rows of empty chairs in the western and eastern stands were conspicuous even a hour after the game was underway on a hot but breezy afternoon.

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