A nation expects: A boy waves the national flag of India outside the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad (India) (AFP) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to attend the final match of the Cricket World Cup on Sunday, as fans across the cricket-mad country held prayers for a win.
Cricket’s global showpiece, a marathon tournament totalling 48 matches played over 46 days between 10 teams at 10 venues, wraps up with a blockbuster finale on Sunday.
India have been the form team of the World Cup, winning all 10 games on their way to Sunday’s finale against five-time champions Australia in Ahmedabad, in India’s western Gujarat state.
Modi will be joined at the game by Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, the Gujarat state government said in a statement on Saturday.
As well as the cricket, celebrations will include an airforce flypast, light and laser show, and hundreds of dancers performing Bollywood hit songs at the innings break, according to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Despite the country’s cricket riches, India are without a major international title since the 2013 Champions Trophy and expectations in the cricket-crazy nation of 1.4 billion people have reached fever pitch.
Fans organised special prayers across the country for an India win, media reports said, holding Hindu ceremonies asking for victory.
Ahmedabad buzzed with excitement and anticipation, with life-size posters of Indian heroes including Virat Kohli up at local shops.
Large deployments of security forces were reported on the city’s streets.
Hotels are fully booked, with an overflow of fans waiting to pay many times over their usual price for a room.
The match is set to be held at the world’s biggest cricket arena, the 132,000 capacity Narendra Modi stadium.
The stadium was one of the pet projects of the Hindu nationalist leader when he headed Gujarat’s state government, before he became prime minister in 2014.