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India fans vent fury after Sri Lanka loss

cricket Updated: Apr 06, 2007 19:14 IST

Reuters
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Hundreds of cricket fans across India burnt effigies, defaced posters and held mock funeral processions of the national team, a day after their defeat to Sri Lanka in the World Cup match in the Caribbean.

Winners in 1983 and finalists in the last tournament, India suffered a 69-run defeat in their crunch Group B match against Sri Lanka and their slim hopes of progressing now hinge on an unlikely defeat for Bangladesh by debutants Bermuda on Sunday.

Cricket is taken very seriously in India, where players are treated as huge celebrities, paid big money to endorse major commercial brands and put on pedestals by cricket-crazy fans.

But on Saturday, television pictures showed furious cricket fans in towns and cities across India taking to the streets to show their outrage at their national team's defeat.

In the northern city of Kanpur, dozens of residents held a mock funeral procession where people dressed as the 11 cricket players were carried on stretchers through the streets.

"Everyone should leave this cricket team, we should have new youngsters with much more power and more aggression and all these old team members should retire," said one angry fan.

In other places, fans burnt effigies, stamped on glossy posters of players and daubed their faces with black paint. Others lashed out at pictures with their shoes.

"It was such a waste of time to see India lose one wicket after another and finally lose the match, I don't want to even talk about it," said Jatin Panchal, a businessman in the western city of Ahmedabad.

CANCELLED BOOKINGS

Security has been stepped up outside the residences of some of the cricketers, including captain Rahul Dravid's home in the southern city of Bangalore, for fears of an attack or stone-pelting by fans.

The World Cup-frenzy in the country has been fuelled by a multitude of television channels and media houses who have touted the team as favourites and are tracking the action minute-by-minute since the team's arrival in the Caribbean.

In the eastern city of Kolkata, travel agents said many fans planning to travel to the Caribbean to watch India compete in the Super Eight -- the last eight remaining teams -- had cancelled their bookings.

"At least a dozen persons, who had booked their tickets to the Caribbean to watch India battle in the Super Eights next week have already called to cancel their trip," travel agent Anil Punjabi said, adding travel agents stood to lose millions of rupees from booking cancellations.

Sumanta Banerjee, 41, was planning to fly to the Caribbean next week to watch India play in the next round, but changed his plans immediately after India's defeat.

"I would rather go to Thailand for holidays now," he said.

(Additional reporting Rupam Jain in Ahmedabad and Bappa Majumdar in Kolkata)