Houston resident Mitul Bhakta draped himself in the flag of India at the...

Houston resident Mitul Bhakta draped himself in the flag of India at the T20 Cricket World Cup at Eisenhower Park Wednesday. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

There was no miracle at East Meadow on Wednesday.

In the last T20 Cricket World Cup match played at a temporary stadium in Eisenhower Park, 31,219 fans saw the world's No. 1 team, India, beat the United States, a team with no previous Cup experience representing a nation that remains largely indifferent to the sport.

Most in the crowd wore India’s blue and orange. A few waved American flags. Many appeared to cheer for both sides, cheering and screaming for every ball bashed past the vast green pitch and over a shin-high boundary.

“It’s inspiring,” said Vinay Manhass, 54, a program manager for Bank of America from Cary, North Carolina. “It’s an international game.”

Between his ticket and the cost of airfare, Manhass said, he had paid close to $1,000 to be there. But “this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he added, “definitely worth it.” In the hours before Wednesday’s match, the online ticket resale site StubHub had 17 match tickets for sale for $350 and up. One luxury package was selling for $54,427, or $69,393 with fees.

Nassau County was one of three U.S. sites — Lauderhill, Florida, and Grand Prairie, Texas, were the others — to host opening round matches of the International Cricket Council’s Men’s T20 World Cup. Nassau hosted nine matches, including the one between India and Pakistan that sold out the stadium. Bruce Blakeman, the county executive, often described the tournament as the “Super Bowl on steroids” when touting its business and marketing benefits.

Attendance at the Nassau matches was 156,719, according to the Cricket Council. If the television and online audience approaches that of previous cups, viewership will reach several hundred million.

India’s win over the United States guaranteed it a spot in the tournament’s next stage. The United States must beat Ireland on Friday in Lauderhill to advance. The tournament's final rounds will be played in the West Indies. 

American bowler Saurabh Netravalkar, famous for his day job — he actually has one, as a software engineer, unlike many other Cup players, who are full-time professional athletes — told reporters after the match that he was optimistic for cricket’s future in the United States.

“It’s been heartening to see, especially the fan base,” he said. “People are trying to learn more about the game, and people showed up in great numbers. I’m grateful for that and I hope this is planting the seed for the sport in this country. I hope it grows exponentially, goes into schools and colleges, and that more kids will pick up the sport.”

There were some mild complaints. Brothers Jahwa Roberts, 62, a pastry chef from Jersey City, and Michael Roberts, 55, an aviation engineer from Fulton County, Georgia, said they wished they had been able to watch matches featuring their native West Indies (Nassau County hosted none).

Vinod Halai, 57, an entrepreneur from London who flew over with friends, said there should have been more toilets. 

The compressed T20 format may be beloved by television broadcasters but “by the time you’re in the queue,” Halai said, “you’ve missed a quarter of the match.”

Outside the stadium, Pranay Shah, 35, a doctor from Bellerose, Queens, rocked his 1-year-old daughter, Haley, during a break in play. It was the first live cricket match for both of them

“We just came for the experience,” he said. “I don’t know if this is ever going to happen again, but I’d love to bring cricket to the USA more often.”

There was no miracle at East Meadow on Wednesday.

In the last T20 Cricket World Cup match played at a temporary stadium in Eisenhower Park, 31,219 fans saw the world's No. 1 team, India, beat the United States, a team with no previous Cup experience representing a nation that remains largely indifferent to the sport.

Most in the crowd wore India’s blue and orange. A few waved American flags. Many appeared to cheer for both sides, cheering and screaming for every ball bashed past the vast green pitch and over a shin-high boundary.

“It’s inspiring,” said Vinay Manhass, 54, a program manager for Bank of America from Cary, North Carolina. “It’s an international game.”

Between his ticket and the cost of airfare, Manhass said, he had paid close to $1,000 to be there. But “this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he added, “definitely worth it.” In the hours before Wednesday’s match, the online ticket resale site StubHub had 17 match tickets for sale for $350 and up. One luxury package was selling for $54,427, or $69,393 with fees.

Nassau County was one of three U.S. sites — Lauderhill, Florida, and Grand Prairie, Texas, were the others — to host opening round matches of the International Cricket Council’s Men’s T20 World Cup. Nassau hosted nine matches, including the one between India and Pakistan that sold out the stadium. Bruce Blakeman, the county executive, often described the tournament as the “Super Bowl on steroids” when touting its business and marketing benefits.

Attendance at the Nassau matches was 156,719, according to the Cricket Council. If the television and online audience approaches that of previous cups, viewership will reach several hundred million.

India’s win over the United States guaranteed it a spot in the tournament’s next stage. The United States must beat Ireland on Friday in Lauderhill to advance. The tournament's final rounds will be played in the West Indies. 

American bowler Saurabh Netravalkar, famous for his day job — he actually has one, as a software engineer, unlike many other Cup players, who are full-time professional athletes — told reporters after the match that he was optimistic for cricket’s future in the United States.

“It’s been heartening to see, especially the fan base,” he said. “People are trying to learn more about the game, and people showed up in great numbers. I’m grateful for that and I hope this is planting the seed for the sport in this country. I hope it grows exponentially, goes into schools and colleges, and that more kids will pick up the sport.”

There were some mild complaints. Brothers Jahwa Roberts, 62, a pastry chef from Jersey City, and Michael Roberts, 55, an aviation engineer from Fulton County, Georgia, said they wished they had been able to watch matches featuring their native West Indies (Nassau County hosted none).

Vinod Halai, 57, an entrepreneur from London who flew over with friends, said there should have been more toilets. 

The compressed T20 format may be beloved by television broadcasters but “by the time you’re in the queue,” Halai said, “you’ve missed a quarter of the match.”

Outside the stadium, Pranay Shah, 35, a doctor from Bellerose, Queens, rocked his 1-year-old daughter, Haley, during a break in play. It was the first live cricket match for both of them

“We just came for the experience,” he said. “I don’t know if this is ever going to happen again, but I’d love to bring cricket to the USA more often.”

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

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Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

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