The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Freddieji frenzy on Sachin wicket

New Delhi, Sept. 7: In a part of the world where David Beckham’s equivalent as a sports superstar is a cricketer called Sachin Tendulkar, it is no surprise that the Indian sub-continent has gone mad for the Ashes.

The heart-stopping run-chase at Trent Bridge was watched by 20 million Indians, nearly 12 million more than the record number who watched in England.

The interest has been heightened by the fact that India’s team, which, like Australia’s, is filled with ageing stars, has been under-performing recently.

“Indians know how special this England performance is,” said Rohit Roy, one of New Delhi’s most prolific amateur cricketers.

“If England wins, it will be great for the future of world cricket. Seeing the Aussie batsmen ducking and diving for cover in the face of this England pace quartet is enough to put joy in any cricket-lover’s heart.”

Rajneesh Malhotra, a hotel food and beverages manager in Gurgaon said: “Customers wanted to watch the Ashes even on days when India were playing in a tri-series in Sri Lanka. This has not been seen in the past.”

Staff at the British High Commission were preparing for Tony Blair’s arrival in New Delhi today. “The Prime Minister will find a nation glued to its TVs and radios from three ’clock on Thursday afternoon: for news of Freddieji and England,” said Mark Runacres, deputy high commissioner and captain of the Commission’s cricket team.

“Of all the ties which bind our two countries, cricket is, for many ordinary Indians, the most potent.”

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