Australia advanced to the Cricket World Cup final Thursday after defeating defending champions India. A look at the disappointed, cricket-obsessed nation.
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The U.S. has March Madness. India indulges in cricket, and today it was tough. The country lost a bid against Australia to defend the Cricket World Cup. NPR's Julie McCarthy reports the passion of Indian fans is something any national team would treasure.
JUIE MCCARTHY, BYLINE: Across the country, Indians harnessed their hope, listening on car radios and sitting transfixed before television screens.
MCCARTHY: Their concentration interrupted with roars of delight as a batsman from Australia gets called out, a wicket in cricket parlance. Shubh Kirti (ph), 25, joined some 60 university students who sat in a darkened hall viewing the game with reverence.
SHUBH KIRTI: We hardly get time to watch TV, but today even professors are not taking class or they've shifted their classes, so it's - cricket is special - is life in India.
MCCARTHY: A bar in New Delhi, known as Social, filled up with fans who sipped cocktails and skipped work. The Times of India reported that a third of office goers nationwide said they would call in sick. Twenty-six-year-old engineer Ankita Kataria (ph), who was on her way for a visa to travel to Canada, didn't bother to call anyone.
ANKITA KATARIA: I had an appointment at the visa office and we directly walked in here.
MCCARTHY: What is it about this game that the Indians so love?
KATARIA: I don't know, but since childhood we are crazy about cricket.
MCCARTHY: Her friend Anukriti Singh (ph), also an engineer, put the appeal down to glamour and national pride.
LAKSHMI SINGH, BYLINE: We are pretty good at that. You can see it (laughter).
MCCARTHY: Cricket unites India in the way that the beaches of Rio unite Brazil. The rich and poor enjoy it alongside one another. Anshul Goel (ph) said the game where batsmen defend a wicket and bowlers bowl googlies, or tricky pitches, unifies a country divided by caste and class.
ANSHUL GOEL: That doesn't happen quite often in India, but when you're watching cricket you're just one entity as a whole.
MCCARTHY: As disappointing as India's defeat today was, Abhinav Bhatia (ph) said he wouldn't miss the final.
ABHINAV BHATIA: It will be a good game. It would've been better if India was in it.
MCCARTHY: New Zealand takes on favorite Australia for the World Cup Sunday. Julie McCarthy, NPR News, New Delhi. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.