Fever pitch atmosphere for World Cup final

MUMBAI, April 1, 2011 (AFP) – Frenzied fans, ticket touts and paramilitary police promised a heady mix of carnival and caution for the cricket World Cup final in Mumbai Saturday between hosts India and South Asian rivals Sri Lanka. Roads have been blocked around the Wankhede Stadium venue, with some 3,500 police personnel out in force to ensure the safety of the two teams and the 32,000 spectators, who include both countries’ presidents.

The match is Mumbai’s highest-profile sporting event since the 2008 attacks, which saw 10 Islamist militants kill 166 people in strikes against landmark targets, including the Taj Mahal Palace hotel where the teams are now staying.

Khaki-clad police with bamboo sticks have been joined by paramilitaries with full body armour and automatic weapons, as coastguard and navy patrols keep a watch on the Arabian Sea and a no-fly zone is imposed over south Mumbai.

Officers will monitor security cameras at the ground, where fans face searches for an extensive list of banned items, including food, drinks and electronic equipment, before entering.

Despite the stringent security, ticket touts have been out in force around the stadium for days, seeking to cash in on the clamour for seats.