Ahmedabad currently holds the spotlight as the ultimate destination for all roads, rail lines, air routes, and even potential tunnels and teleporters. The demand for tickets among home fans is soaring, as they eagerly seek the opportunity to witness the event in person. However, securing entry into the stadium has proven to be quite a challenge.
On the morning train from Mumbai, conversations were dominated by discussions about the difficulties in obtaining tickets. Passengers were overheard using phrases such as "He's asking for too much," "I'll get back to you," or "We need two more" as they faced obstacles in acquiring tickets. In fact, a passenger even showed Al Jazeera the exorbitant prices being asked by black market ticket dealers on WhatsApp. Shockingly, some tickets were being sold for more than double the country's average annual per capita income.
Frustration is brewing among those who managed to secure tickets, as there has been a lack of transparency from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), led by Jay Shah, regarding the number of tickets available to the public. Certain individuals were able to bypass the extensive online queues and obtain tickets through personal connections. This disparity has left many feeling disheartened.
The high demand for the match has caused hotel rooms in Ahmedabad to skyrocket in price, with rates reaching as high as 200,000 rupees per night. Transportation back to Mumbai is also becoming a major issue, as flights and trains are fully booked and buses are being chartered at inflated rates.
Nevertheless, the anticipation and excitement surrounding the match have resulted in a surge in business across various sectors in Ahmedabad. Taxi drivers are experiencing a significant increase in customers from different cities, cinemas showing the match have sold out their tickets, and fans have flocked outside the Indian team hotel in hopes of catching a glimpse of their favorite players. With the Indian cricket team currently on an unbeaten run in the competition, the frenzy has reached new heights.
Following the matches, loyal fans have been waiting outside stadiums for hours just to bid farewell to the players. This was no different outside the Narendra Modi Stadium, where crowds gathered and vendors sold cheap imitations of the team's blue jersey. Indian captain Rohit Sharma has acknowledged the significance of the occasion and stressed the importance for athletes to remain focused despite the immense hype and excitement.
On the other hand, Australian captain Pat Cummins has welcomed the challenge of playing in front of a crowd that largely favors the Indian team. The delays in releasing the itinerary and the ticketing issues have contributed to the expectation of a primarily one-sided crowd. While a few Australian fans have taken the opportunity to explore the city, the majority will not have the same chance.
The crowd of Indian fans outside the stadium continues to grow, and they were recently treated to a dazzling rehearsal of a drone show, which will be part of a closing ceremony resembling a nationalistic variety show rather than a typical sporting event. Furthermore, the Indian Air Force is set to perform an aerobatic show between the toss and the start of the game, adding to the excitement and grandeur of the event.During the innings break, there is set to be a brief concert showcasing patriotic songs, a highlight among the spectators throughout the competition. One song in particular, "Maa Tujhe Salam" ("I Salute You, Mother India"), has garnered widespread adoration from the crowd. Additionally, an evening drinks break will feature a mesmerizing light-and-laser show. However, Australian player Glenn Maxwell has voiced criticism of the idea to darken the stadium during the match, finding it disorienting.
Influential figures attending the match include Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles. It is noteworthy that Modi's last cricket match attendance was also in Ahmedabad, where he witnessed a battle between India and Australia in March. On that occasion, the toss was delayed as Modi, accompanied by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, circled the field, earning acclaim from television commentators. He even received a portrait of himself in a stadium named after him. This time, it is anticipated that he will present the trophy to the Indian captain, although this outcome is beyond his control.
The Indian team's outstanding performance over the past two months has fostered a belief among many that an Indian victory is highly probable, albeit not guaranteed. Previously, Indian fans would experience anxiety before a significant final, yet this time, there exists a prevailing sense of confidence among their supporters.