The clash was held in front of 130,000 spectators in the Ahmedabad stadium named after Prime Minister Modi, in his home state Gujarat. A win would have added to a year of important milestones for the leader before elections next year, after Delhi held the Group of 20 nations summit in September and India achieved a moon landing.
“A sporting win certainly gives some credibility to a governing party,” said Binoy Kampmark, senior lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University in Australia. “And it helps that it is cricket, considered India’s national sport.”
The game also comes as India hopes to host the Olympics for the first time in 2036. Cricket will be formally included in the Olympics in 2028 in Los Angeles. However, India’s bid could be undermined by criticism of India’s hosting of the Cricket World Cup, with problems including last-minute scheduling and chaotic ticketing processes. Air pollution in India’s cities has been another big concern, as cricketers either cancelled training sessions or had to use inhalers.
Meanwhile, global interest in cricket continues to spread. The sport is now drawing interest from Saudi Arabia, Bloomberg News reported this month. The Board of Control for Cricket in India has become one of the richest sporting bodies in the world as its $US6.2 billion ($9.5 billion), local American-league style tournament has catapulted the commercial success of the game globally.