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Indian fans having a party

It has been days of sheer delight for the Indian fans who had booked their tickets for the fourth Test being played at the Sydney.

india Updated: Jan 04, 2004 17:57 IST

It has been days of sheer delight for the Indian fans who had booked their tickets for the fourth Test being played at the Sydney Cricket Ground here way back in August although they hardly expected their team to throw up a challenge to world champions Australia.

"The best seats had been sold out as early as August and booking the tickets then, I had never expected to be part of history and records being created on the SCG by India," says Christine D'mello, a former Mumbai-based journalist now living in Sydney.

However, the windfall for the Indian fans has turned out to be agony for the home crowd which had been waiting to celebrate their loved skipper Steve Waugh's farewell in a fitting fashion ever since the announcement of retirement by Australia's most successful captain ever.

In the sweltering sun at the SCG, almost 90,000 fans have paid more than over two million dollars over the first two days to watch Waugh but it was not to be.

Dignitaries including Australian Prime Minister John Howard and the Waugh family also waited for a fitting moment as it was generally expected that the captain would get to bat at least on the second day.

In the stands, while the Australian fans booed and even threw plastic cups after tea on the ground yesterday, frustrated by their team's poor fielding and dropped catches, they were also generous with loud applause at every classic shot and records set by the Indian batsmen.

As this correspondent was driving out of the ground, a group of youth clad in the Australian national colours stopped to give thumbs up saying, "Sachin (Tendulkar) is the king. He is great".

For some Australian-Indians, it has been a tough match "emotionally".

"While I want India to do well, I also want Steve to have a great farewell innings. One feels torn apart between loyalty to the home country and the adopted country," says Rekha Bhattacharjee, who migrated to Australia over 30 years ago.

The mixed emotions were expressed by many as the historic Indian innings unfolded.

A Cricket Australia accredited coach and umpire Yogendra Bhatnagar, who moved here from Roorkee 14 years ago, says, "My feelings are with India and watching this match has been certainly my best experience in any sport.

"When they came here, Indians were the underdogs. I always cheer for them as it is easier to relate to the Indian culture than the cut-throat, aggressive psyche of the Australians."

The Australian media was replete with headlines like, "Indian pair puts torch to fairytale",

"Steve's show, but Sachin pulls strings", "Fans lament as Waugh story defies the script", "It wasn't meant to be like this" and "Magician maintains batting spell".

Trevor Marshallsea writesin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman were broad after the pair went on a record-smashing run to turn the Australian captain's farewell into a match of misery."

First Published: Jan 04, 2004 17:55 IST