V.K. SANTOSH KUMAR
Australian Dene Border went to the Cricket World Cup final in Ahmedabad, India, with “low expectations”.
The currency trader, who lives in Singapore, is the son of Australian World Cup-winning captain Allan Border. The 39-year-old felt “India were too good throughout the tournament and we did not have much of a chance”.
Naturally, the way the match turned out in Australia’s favour thrilled him.
“From the decision to bowl first, to the bowling, fielding and batting, Australia were top class,” said Dene, who is also the cricket convenor at the Singapore Cricket Club (SCC). “India wilted under the pressure exerted on them.”
The decision to travel to Ahmedabad was made only on Nov 16, three days before the final. Dene went as part of a group of 20 mates from the SCC which included three other Australians.
“We waited to see if Australia would beat South Africa in the semi-final, and then made all our bookings,” he said. “The flights and hotel accommodation were priced a bit high, but we got the corporate match tickets at face value.”
He felt “cool” walking into the 130,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium despite “eight out of ten spectators dressed in blue”.
“There were several fans waving Indian flags and the noise was deafening. But I never felt intimidated,” he said.
“I was nervous, but I stood up and clapped every run Australia scored. No one booed us. Some even congratulated us after we won. Everyone was so gracious.”
The only peculiarity that struck him was that the crowd went “dead quiet” every time Australia scored a boundary or a six.
“This would never happen at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (which along with the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad is considered among the biggest stadiums in the world),” he said. “People would clap when an opposition batter plays a good shot.”
The Modi Stadium, touted as the biggest cricket stadium in the world with a seating capacity of 130,000, appeared full. But the official figure was 92,453 for the night.
“It was my first time attending a World Cup final, and the stadium was full of cricket enthusiasts,” said Dene. “But I have never seen such a partisan crowd. They went pin-drop silent every time Australia did well, and several of them walked out when it looked like we were winning the match.”
Dene has “no recollection” of the 1987 World Cup final at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, where his father lifted the trophy following Australia’s seven-run win over England.
“I was only three then, and I don’t have much recollection of him as a cricketer,” he said.
“My father, who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, was very happy with Australia’s win on Sunday. He thought we would play conservatively. But he found Pat Cummins’ captaincy inspirational, and the team with the better composure won.”
V.K. Santosh Kumar