Carnival time at Kotla as Delhi hosts its last World Cup match

Carnival time at Kotla as Delhi hosts its last World Cup match

The smell of paint was thick in the air and tricolours, banners fluttered in hundreds, giving a touch of carnival atmosphere as India played the Netherlands here Wednesday
Hundreds of fans marched in with tri-colour stripes daubed on their cheeks and the joy and exuberance of watching their favourite stars writ large on their faces. It mattered little who the opponent was. The city shorn of international cricket for over a year, was determined to let its hair down.

Munna has been furiously mixing his paints, his hands blotched with green, white and orange. “I have lost the count of people I painted. It's been a busy morning,” he said. He charged Rs.20 for painting one side of the face.

As thousands shouldered their way into the stadium, Indian flags fluttered in the hot, grimy air. The fans had to make their way past the flag sellers trying to convince them of the quality and price.

“I have been able to sell only 10 flags as a lot of others have got into the act this time around. I would have otherwise sold 30 by now,” said a flag seller.

People donning the blue India team jersey made a serpentine queue outside the stadium a couple of hours before the start of the match. Some sported curly wigs in blue and pink.

"We have been waiting for this day," said Sourav Saxena, a commerce student at Delhi University. "Me and my friends were lucky to book the tickets online. Now we just want to enjoy ourselves."

The Netherlands too had a small group of supporters from the embassy. They came wearing orange hats and with orange-strap watches.

It was house-full for all group matches of India. In Bangalore and Nagpur, police had to lathicharge to disperse the surging crowds for the tickets.

Delhi last held an India match in December 2009 against Sri Lanka, but unfortunately it was abandoned because of a "dangerous" pitch, leading to the stadium being suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for one year.