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Last Updated:  Monday, 24 March, 2003, 10:13 GMT
India shocked by cricket defeat
By Ayanjit Sen
BBC correspondent in Delhi

Hundreds of millions of Indians watched in shock as their team plunged to defeat in the first Cricket World Cup of the millennium on Sunday evening.

Indian cricket fans in Delhi watch India play Australia
Fans in Delhi hoped India would pull through
Some people had predicted India would lose but not before putting up a fight. But for many, all hopes and prayers failed.

People felt the victory was so near yet so far.

For those people in the Indian capital Delhi who had planned for big celebrations on Sunday night, it was a big disappointment.

"I had gone with some of my friends to a local bar to watch the match and had crackers to burst later when India would have won," said Reshab Khurasia, a college student in Delhi.

The die-hard fans of the Indian cricket team, however, say their bowlers were to be blamed for the debacle.


"Both our opening fast bowlers Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan failed to take advantage of the conditions in the first few overs and gave away priceless runs to the Aussies," said Siddhartha Kumar, a central government officer.

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The Australian opening pair of Adam Gilchrist and Mathew Hayden smashed the Indian fast bowlers all over the park and put up more than 100 runs in the first 15 overs.

Most Indians fans were shocked.

"I still cannot believe it, as I had thought that India was the only team which would stop the dream run of the Aussies in the World Cup," said Delhi housewife, Reshma.

But some people thought India lost the game when their captain Sourav Ganguly won the toss and elected to field.

"It was a wrong decision as it would have been better had we batted first and put up a good total on board," said Rajeev, a businessman.

Prayers unanswered

"We knew India would lose after Australia put up such an imposing total," added Rajeev.

A poster of Sourav Ganguly being burned in Delhi
For many the excitement turned to anger
Prayers were made to the weather gods when overcast conditions threatened the match for a while. But even that prayer went unanswered.

"We clapped when we saw in television that rain had started pouring and covers were on but unfortunately it did not last long," said Sunil, a betelnut shop owner in Delhi.

But for some people, their heroes will always be revered.

"Though the Indian team could not bring home the cup, they played very well throughout the tournament and also we beat our arch-rivals Pakistan," said Abhijit Chakraborty, a software engineer.

Most Indian newspapers on Monday consoled themselves by saying that India had lost to a better team.

A front page headline of the Indian Express newspaper read: "Cup not ours but raise a toast." Another headline in the Hindustan Times newspaper read: "At least we reached the final."

The only consolation for the fans was their favourite batsman Sachin Tendulkar bagging the award for the best player in the tournament.

But most Indians would have also wanted Tendulkar to engineer the loss of Australia, a wish which could not become a reality.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting
"It was an awesome win"

India captain Sourav Ganguly
"They played like real champions"

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