Ahmedabad: The opening encounter of the ICC World Cup 2023 between reigning champions England and the previous edition’s runners-up, New Zealand, was marred by a lack of spectators at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
Despite its capacity to accommodate a record 132,000 fans, the iconic cricket stadium in Ahmedabad appeared nearly deserted at the commencement of the highly anticipated showdown between the finalists of the previous World Cup.
Cricket enthusiasts from around the globe were quick to notice and turned to social media platforms, including X (formerly Twitter), to express their disappointment over the significant number of vacant seats at the world’s largest cricket stadium.
Indians don't like cricket.
They just like their cricket team, especially, when winning!
Empty stadium for very first match speaks. Two good teams, a winner and a runner-up in last edition, but empty stadium. #ENGvNZ #NarendraModiStadium #ICCWorldCup2023 pic.twitter.com/ZGt26sEDWf
— Dr. Hari Babu Sata (@harisata) October 5, 2023
— 𝙄𝑓𝐫ã🌻 (@i_ifraa) October 5, 2023
In the match itself, a collective effort by New Zealand’s bowlers limited England to a total of 282 runs, despite Joe Root’s valiant innings of 77 runs in the ICC World Cup 2023 opener.
Upon being put in to bat, England got off to a reasonable start before losing Dawid Malan, dismissed by Matt Henry in the eighth over with the team’s total at 40 runs.
Jonny Bairstow followed shortly, contributing 33 runs off 35 balls before being caught by Mitchell while attempting a shot over extra cover.
Joe Root found a temporary ally in Harry Brook, who played a brisk 16-ball cameo, accumulating 25 runs with four boundaries and a six before being caught by Conway while aiming to clear the boundary ropes.
Root then formed a resilient 70-run partnership for the fifth wicket with captain Jos Buttler, who was subsequently dismissed by Matt Henry in his second spell when England’s total reached 188. Jos Buttler scored a quick 43 off 42 deliveries, including two boundaries and two sixes.
Joe Root continued to hold the innings together as he lost another partner in Liam Livingstone, who contributed 20 runs before being bowled by Glenn Phillips while attempting a reverse sweep. Root was the top scorer, anchoring the innings with 77 runs off 84 balls, featuring four boundaries and one six.
England encountered a flurry of wickets in quick succession, reducing them to 252-9 in the 46th over. However, Adil Rashid (15) and Mark Wood (13) combined to add a crucial 30 runs in the remaining overs, setting New Zealand a target of 283 runs to chase.
Matt Henry led New Zealand’s bowling attack with figures of 3-48, while Michael Santner and Glenn Phillips each secured two wickets.