BIRMINGHAM (IANS) — The India-Pakistan match might have been termed as the biggest clash of the World Cup in England and Wales, but when it comes to fan battles, the game between India and Bangladesh at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground on July 2 was an outright winner.
Not only were the 24,500 seats in the stadium packed, but also, for the first time in the competition, Indian fans found their match in the stands. In fact, a senior International Cricket Council official said that the game had to be the one with equal support for both teams.
"Yes, this has to be the game where the Indian fans have been given a run for their money. The Bangladesh fans are just as vocal and enthusiastic about their cricket as the Indians, and they have come from across the country to witness what for them is the match of the tournament," the official said.
Interestingly, the fans started queuing up outside the stadium from as early as 7:30 a.m. (local time) and some even travelled from as far as Manchester or Leeds to watch the game.
"We came in last night from Manchester and booked ourselves in a lodge so that we could come in and watch from ball one. I also know of friends who have booked tickets and have come in from Leeds to support our team. While I was born here, my roots are in Barishal in Bangladesh," Pappon told IANS.
"Cricket is a religion not just for India, but also for us and we want our team to beat India and stay in the hunt for a semifinal spot," he added.
Another fan reasoned why this game holds a special place in the heart of the Bangladesh fans. "We can beat Pakistan and Sri Lanka considering our current form. But games against India are the real challenges for this team," Rahim said.
For the first time in this World Cup, every time an Indian group shouted "C'mmon India", it was followed by a "C'mmon Bangladesh" chant. While India might have dominated proceedings on the field, off it the battle was drawn as Bangladesh fans gave the Indians a run for their money.