Cricket World Cup: England and New Zealand open tournament to nearly-empty stadium

England and New Zealand line up ahead of their 2023 Cricket World Cup match.
England and New Zealand's match was played in front of a nearly-empty stadium. Credit: AP

The 2023 Cricket World Cup kicked off in bizarre circumstances on Thursday as England played New Zealand in a nearly-empty stadium.

India is hosting the tournament and chose to stage the opening fixture at the Narendra Modi Stadium - named after the country's incumbent prime minister - in Ahmedabad.

Defending champions England suffered a thrashing at the hands of New Zealand as centuries from Rachin Ravindra and Devon Conway ensured a win for the latter by nine wickets.

The Narendra Modi Stadium can seat around 132,000 spectators - making it the biggest cricket stadia in the world - but was left largely empty for the entirety of the match.

Cricket fans quickly took to social media to voice their bemusement, with one writing on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter: "Is this the Cricket World Cup? The entire stadium is empty in the inaugural match."

The Narendra Modi Stadium is the biggest cricket ground in the world. Credit: AP

Another wrote: "That's just not cricket … England and New Zealand begin Cricket World Cup in empty stadium."

Ticket sales for the tournament have been affected by a delayed fixture schedule, which was only confirmed in late June.

Fans were also only able to purchase tickets around a month before the World Cup began.

Further complaints have been levelled at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the tournament's joint host body alongside the International Cricket Council (ICC), after it made the decision to stagger ticket sales.

The World Cup is being staged across 39 days with ten teams competing to win the title.

England are among the favourites, but are expected to face stiff competition from the likes of India and Australia.

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