On Sunday, the final of the Indian Premier League and what is likely to be the farewell of superstar M.S. Dhoni were expected to draw a crowd of more than one hundred thousand people to the largest cricket stadium in the world.
The climax of the big-bucks Twenty20 competition will take place in Ahmedabad, where Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings will compete against the holders, the Gujarat Titans. Their goal is to win a record-tying fifth title.
But Gujarat, captained by Hardik Pandya, will be no pushovers playing at their home stadium as they aim to defend the crown they won in their maiden season following a miraculous victory. Gujarat won the title in their debut season last year.
Pandya broke the global record highest attendance in a Twenty20 cricket match in 2022 when he collected the trophy in front of 101,566 people at a stadium with a capacity of 132,000. However, the organizers were optimistic that they would break the record on Sunday evening.
According to a media officer of the state organization, who spoke with AFP, “tickets for the grand finale have sold out, and we are expecting a full house.”
The officials had anticipated a filled house for the final playoff as well; however, only approximately 75,000 spectators showed out for the Friday match when Gujarat trounced Mumbai Indians, despite the fact that the authorities had anticipated a packed house.
On Saturday, a large number of supporters were optimistic as they stood in line to redeem their internet tickets at a desk located outside the stadium.
A software programmer named Suresh Babu told AFP that he had traveled all the way from Chennai, which is located on the opposite end of the nation, “to see Dhoni lift the trophy one more time.”
“I know it may be his last, but we pray that he comes back again next year,” added the 43-year-old player, who donned Dhoni’s yellow Chennai shirt. “I know it may be his last, but we pray that he comes back again next year.”
Due to the fact that Dhoni is competing for the team, Gujarat has received a significant amount of support from their fans at home during their second season in the game.
Even though the wicketkeeper-batsman has stated that he would decide on his future with the IPL later this year, it is widely assumed that the finale will be the 41-year-old’s last game as a player. India is obsessed with cricket, and the 41-year-old continues to be a great draw in the country.
The current season has seen the former India captain pack stadiums all throughout the nation, and there is no reason to believe that the tournament final at the Narendra Modi Stadium would be any different.
According to Sharif, a vendor of T-shirts who only goes by one name, “last year it was just Pandya jerseys that were sold but this time Dhoni’s Chennai number 7 T-shirt is equally in demand.”
A teenage supporter who was wearing a Pandya shirt shared their sentiments, saying, “I want Hardik to win the IPL again, but I still want to see Dhoni hit the helicopter shot for a six.”
During the height of his career, that shot, a bottom-handed wristy flip, became Dhoni’s signature move.