Ecstatic ending for emotionally drained fans

AHMEDABAD, (Reuters) – In the end it all paid off  for the 48,000 fans who braved intense heat and fought their way  through heavy security to watch India play Australia at the  Sardar Patel Stadium today.
They had come to witness Sachin Tendulkar score his 100th  international century and an Indian quarter-final victory over  the defending champions.
Although Tendulkar was dismissed after a well-made  half-century, the crowd still left content after India’s  five-wicket victory put an end to an era of Australian World Cup  domination.
Caps came off heads and were thrown into the air while  shirts were torn off bodies and twirled with breathtaking speed  and agility as India reached their target.
To top it all, today’s victory ensured the best World Cup  contest they could imagine with a semi-final against Pakistan  next Wednesday.
The boisterous crowd chanted “We want Pakistan. We want  Pakistan” time and again and were emotionally involved in every  shot that was played, every run that was saved, and every catch  that was taken.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting’s appeal for a catch, after  it appeared to reach him on the first bounce, excited the  crowd’s wrath once they had seen the replay on the big screen.
The same man who had received a vociferous cheer after  completing his hundred was greeted with boos and chants of  “cheater, cheater”.
But it was not party time for the crowd throughout the day  as India faltered on their victory path.
The crowd fell silent once Tendulkar walked off after edging  Shaun Tait to Brad Haddin behind the stumps and the collective  gasps and sighs reverberated around the stadium when Gautam  Gambhir survived two runout reprieves. They turned to loud  groans when he finally ran himself at the third attempt.
Nineteen runs later, when captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was  also out, a few decided they had had enough and started walking  off with the victory still 74 runs away.
“I was planning to go home after MS (Dhoni) got out. In  fact, one of my friends left the stadium. Thank God I stayed  back,” 19-year old Bhuvan Patel, draped in an Indian jersey,  told Reuters after the match.
He would have done better to thank Yuvraj Singh, who kept  his cool to guide India home.
While Yuvraj crashed the ball into the advertising hoarding  behind the boundary, the crowd erupted in a decibel level that  would have given a serious scare to the sound pollution control  authorities.

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