Opening world cup match a crowd pleaser

5:51 am on 16 February 2015

A crowd of almost 18,000 watched the Black Caps defeat Sri Lanka in the opening match of the Cricket World Cup in Christchurch at the weekend.

Sri Lankan supporters at the NZ vs Sri Lanka match at the Cricket World Cup at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

Sri Lankan supporters. Photo: RNZ / Patrick Phelps

Poor weather delayed the opening match of the tournament at Christchurch's Hagley Oval to just after its scheduled starting time of 11am on Saturday.

All 20,000 seats for the game sold out, but on the day just 17,288 people turned out in cold and overcast weather.

But the weather did nothing to dampen the spirits of those who attended, keen to support their teams.

Local fans said it was great to have international matches in Christchurch, in such a central location, although the weather could have been a bit better.

Sri Lankan supporters, who were disappointed by the end result, supported their team throughout the day - singing, chanting and with a brass band.

A Sri Lankan ex-pat living in Christchurch, Sajath Hussain, said after a few years, he had grown used to the weather, but still backed his home team.

"I've been living in New Zealand for four years, but still a Sri Lankan fan, always Sri Lanka," he said.

Handful of arrests

The head of the Cricket World Cup in New Zealand, Therese Walsh, said she was thrilled with how the day went, except for the weather and two separate streakers towards the end of the match.

"For some reason the crowd seem to really enjoy it, but we don't want to have the pitch invaded. We want people to be respectful of the pitch and the players.

"We're trying really hard to make sure it doesn't happen, but you can never guarantee that."

Police said two men, aged 23 and 26, were due in the Christchurch District Court tomorrow.

They said 14 people were also evicted from the stadium or issued with a trespass order for drunkenness and inappropriate behaviour, including illegal betting.

However, other than those incidents, they were pleased with the way those in the crowd acted over the course of the event.

The crowd at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch during the opening Cricket World Cup match, New Zealand versus Sri Lanka.

The crowd at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch during the opening Cricket World Cup match, New Zealand versus Sri Lanka. Photo: RNZ / Patrick Phelps

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