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Last Updated:  Sunday, 23 March, 2003, 16:45 GMT
Emotional ride for rival fans
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport at the World Cup final in Johannesburg

The Wanderers is fondly referred to as the Bullring.

And on Sunday, to the despair of the massed ranks of Indian fans, the Australian captain Ricky Ponting proved chief matador.

Ponting, building on the early damage inflicted by Adam Gilchrist, and assisted in superb style by Damien Martyn, treated the Indian attack with disdain.

And to score 360 was always going to be beyond the Indians.

Well before Glenn McGrath took the final wicket, some of their most fervent fans had headed for the exit signs.

Indian fans in Johannesburg
India's supporters were dreaming of glory before the match
This was not how it was meant to be for them, especially those who had spent so much money to fly to Johannesburg.

They had shared the confidence of the Indian players themselves who had booked out a restaurant in the city to "celebrate" World Cup night more than a week previously.

We knew we were in for a boisterous day from the off.

A spectacular wall of noise reverberated around the attractive green-roofed stands when Sourav Ganguly won the toss.

That was evidence if any were needed that Indian fans heavily outnumbered their Australian counterparts.

Before the match the Aussie contingent had been notably more relaxed than their opposite numbers, mingling with street entertainers on Corlett Drive, the tree-lined avenue leading to the ground.

But not all the players shared those feelings.

Matthew Hayden, a fierce bludgeoner of runs at the best of times, had had a poor World Cup and shortly before the toss he took his bat out to the middle, standing at the crease and slowly observing the stands.

Positive psychology is everything in a match as big as this.

Australian supporters
The Aussies did a lot of cheering but were outnumbered by Indian fans
Two banners draped over the second tier in the Centenary Pavilion read Bharat Ka Sapna (India's dream).

But for the spectators directly behind that message there was scant cause for celebration throughout.

There would be only one passage of play to prompt the impassioned flag-waving they so enjoy.

Either side of a brief interlude for rain when some chanted "Duckworth Lewis is man of the tournament" Virender Sehwag lit up the gloom with some defiant boundaries.

Luck was rarely on the side of India and one incident while Australia were batting summed up the sort of day they their fans had to endure perfectly.

Ponting, well before he had got into his stride, spooned a top-edged pull which looked likely to end up in mid-on's hands.

But the chance just eluded Ashish Nehra while legions of blue-shirted Indian supporters prepared to celebrate.

An Australian girl in her 20s was isolated with a friend within a big cluster of Indian fans.

But she chose that moment to jump to her feet and wave the flag behind her back triumphantly.

The loyal Indian fans refused to be completely silenced at any point, even when Ponting's sixes rained down on them.

And they did have one enjoyable moment, when Martyn dropped the simplest of boundary catches directly in front of the Bharat Army.




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