After all of the anticipation and buildup, the beginning of the World Cup in India did not go as planned.
The absence of an opening ceremony that was supposed to add spice to the global showpiece event and a very thin attendance at the 1,32,000-capacity Ahmedabad Stadium, which was named after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, made the opening game between holders England and runners-up New Zealand look like just another one-day fixture at someplace. The stadium in question was named after Narendra Modi, India’s current prime minister.
Among the few thousand onlookers, there were a few of English and New Zealander supporters who painted their faces with the colours of their respective countries and cheered for their teams. However, the partisan fans at home were noticeably absent from the event.
When the Cricket World Cup was held on the subcontinent for the last time in 2011, India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh all served as co-hosts for the event, and Dhaka played home to the spectacular opening ceremony.
This time around, India is the only host nation for the ICC flagship event; as a result, an opening ceremony did not take place; rather, the Captains’ Day event was held in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.
The absence of spectators, who are regarded as the heart and soul of the competition, was mostly caused by the fact that the hosts were not competing in the first round.
Since the 1996 tournament that was jointly hosted by India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, this is the second occasion in the history of the World Cup that the home team did not play the opening game. It just so happens that the first game of the World Cup featured England and New Zealand, and that game took place in Ahmedabad.
A low attendance in the first game is disheartening from the standpoint that there were not many home supporters to celebrate a great cricket game combining two extremely competitive sides, who were part of the best-ever World Cup final in the tournament’s history in 2019 at Lord’s.
However, this does not necessarily imply that the Indian supporters, who are known for their intense devotion for the game, have suddenly gone on strike. On October 8, India will begin their World Cup campaign against Australia in Chennai, and a large number of fans are expected to attend the match.
The fact that India did not participate in the first game as hosts may have something to do with other urgent matters, but it also highlights the reality that the choice robbed the worldwide audience of all of the celebration and hype that is often connected with the inaugural game of a huge event.
Even if there was a lack of celebration and commotion in the fans, there was an abundance of pyrotechnics in the middle as New Zealand made a joke of England’s score of 282 for nine.
Both opener Devon Conway and one-down Rachin Ravindra produced unbroken hundreds in his first World Cup appearances, helping the Blackcaps cruise to 283 with nine wickets in hand and 13.4 overs still to spare.
Conway amassed an unconquerable 152 runs off 121 balls, which included 19 fours and three sixes. Rachin, a young all-rounder, hit an equally amazing 123 off 96 balls, with 11 fours and five sixes among his runs. After the first batter, Will Young, was run out for a duck in the second over of the innings, the second wicket partnership between these two batsmen went unbroken and resulted in 273 further runs for the team.
After two consecutive heartbreaking losses in the World Cup final, including one against England four years ago when England won on boundary counts after the scores were level both in 50 overs and in the Super Over, the victory provided New Zealand a flawless start to their quest for a first-ever World Cup championship.
Earlier, Joe Root struck the first fifty of the competition, which provided England with something to defend. But it was never enough given the lofty standards they had established over the last four years, and the Blackcaps only resorted to the English aggressive batting style to gain some type of retribution for their loss at Lord’s.