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Cricket World Cup: Beige Brigade outsmart footsore Barmy Army

Wellington: Hundreds of Barmy Army fans from England came face to face with the home Beige Brigade in the high-profile England-New Zealand clash in Wellington on Friday.

With the weather at its most cricket friendly, the 33,000-capacity Westpac stadium was filling up from the first ball with both sets of fans singing songs to encourage their teams.

But the Barmy Army had to change their chants to boos as wickets tumbled one after the other, contrary to their expectations.

England, needing a win after losing their opening match to co-hosts and title-favourites Australia by 111 runs in Melbourne, were bowled out for 123 in just 33.2 overs.

Paceman Tim Southee recorded the best bowling figures by a New Zealander in all one-day cricket by taking 7-33 in nine overs.

That, not surprisingly, lifted the mood in New Zealand`s camp.

"We have come here to see the home team win," said Martin Denloy, who came from Auckland for the match.

"Being part of the Beige Brigade and going to all the cities is a wonderful experience. This time we expect our team to win the World Cup and everybody can see that coming today."

Even before the match started England fans had little confidence of a win.

"We have a slim chance," said Lee Wagh, from Manchester, England.

"Our team is not doing well in one-day cricket and we have very little chance of reaching the semi-finals but despite that the love of the game has brought me here.

"Maybe we will watch our bitter rivals (Australia) win this World Cup," said Wagh.

But there are neutral fans as well who have come all the way from United States, like Bhawant Arwaday.

"I am here to watch cricket irrespective of who is playing," said Arwaday. "New Zealand is a strong team so I will back them. Actually I wanted to watch the Pakistan-India game but I didn`t get a ticket."

The India-Pakistan clash was a sell-out at the 47,000 capacity Adelaide stadium last Sunday.

For David Robson and his wife Jacqueline, it`s tough to back one team.

"We are English born but settled in Wellington," said David. "We love New Zealand but also want England to do well."

"I want the match to go to the wire," said Jacqueline, optimistically. "It`s fun to watch cricket in New Zealand with the weather being so kind and I hope it remains the same."

Mark Grunley has come from London and is finding it tough to tolerate England`s slump.

"I feared England would not do well, so I have planned my visit till the second week of March and then I will go back," said Grunley.

"It`s better to watch it on television and better save the money for the Rugby World Cup (later this year)."

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