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They who roar last

India's fans out-shouted England's all day - except at the very end

Yuvraj Singh is stumped, England v India, ICC World Twenty20 Super Eights, Lord's, June 14, 2009
Silent night: Yuvraj is dismissed, rendering the Indian support silent © Getty Images

On the eve of the clash between the hosts and the champions, Paul Collingwood was asked if he was a little worried that Lord's would turn into a home venue for India. Not at all, shot back the England captain, expressing confidence that hordes of English fans would descend upon St John's Wood wearing St George's Crosses on their cheeks and cheers on their sleeves. He was in for a rude shock.

England's fans turned up al right, but they were outnumbered by India's supporters. I estimated it was 60% to 40% in the champions' favour. The Indian fans, however, were far more vocal - their cheers and songs fuelled by passion and alcohol - and the noise they made gave the impression that it was more 80-20.

Norman Tebbit would have been horrified. Not content merely with backing India, fans who got there early booed the England team while they were practising at the Nursery Ground. "It was hard to believe we were playing at home," Collingwood said later. And when the Indians made their way from the Nursery Ground, under the media centre, and on to the field, security officials had to part the throng by forming a human chain to create a path for the players. It was simply manic.

Only when Yuvraj Singh was stumped did the tide begin to turn. It began to hit home that India were on their way out of the tournament, and a lot of the fans began to make their way out of Lord's. They were streaming towards the exits when Yusuf Pathan hammered the fourth ball off the final over for six to reduce the equation from 15 off three balls to 9 off two. They paused momentarily, standing were they were, willing Yusuf to do the improbable. He couldn't, and England's loudest moment came when India managed only a single off the penultimate ball, effectively ending the game. India's fans outcheered their counterparts for the majority of the game, but the last and most significant roar was England's.

George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo

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