The day of reckoning has arrived for over a billion diehard fans of Indian and Pakistani cricket teams as the subcontinent giants square off at Adelaide Oval tomorrow. Thousands of Indian fans are expected to converge on the South Australian capital city for the World Cup Cricket match on February 15.
A quick online check of few major holiday-bookers shows there is not one room to be found within 10 minute driving distance of Adelaide Oval, tomorrow’s veritable conflict zone.
Add to the crowd equally enthusiastic Pakistani fans and domestic cricket enthusiasts. The Adelaide event is the sixth World Cup match the two would play with India remaining unbeaten in all previous five games.
Swami Army, a well-organised group of India supporters, is organising a massive pre-match rally to demonstrate support for Team India. Speaking to southasia.com.au, Swami Army’s founder Amit Grover confirmed hundreds would march from Elder Park to Adelaide Oval on Sunday. Although he was unable to quantify the exact number of Indian spectators, tricolour supporters are expected to be tens of thousand strong. However, not all of them will participate in tomorrow’s march.
“This is a great opportunity for members who will be attending the match to show your support for Team India and let the whole of Adelaide know that the Swami Army are in town!,” says a release on its website.
Those willing to hit the ground directly can join their fellow-Swamis at MoneyGram marquee near the Southern Gate when the procession reaches there around 1 pm.
Conceived during India’s tour to Australia in 2003-04 by a group of ten die-hard cricket enthusiasts, the Swami Army is recognised by cricket boards and is the single largest group of supporters of the Indian national team. Wherever and whenever India plays, the Swamis are there. The group has over 5000 registered fans and organises “travel packages, tickets to cricket games, merchandising and a range of other benefits for our members”.
Amidst what undoubtedly is the most talked about occasion in any sporting history, the South Australian Police have beefed up its security measures in and around the venue. Amit appreciated the cooperation he and his friends have received from the authorities in organising tomorrow pre-match rally.
Cricket Australia’s chief executive James Sutherland rightly told the ABC News Breakfast recently that the ICC World Cup match between the two archrivals will be the most viewed event in the entire history of the game. He said that the tickets for India-Pakistan clash was sold out within “20 minutes”. Apparently when more tickets were made available they were gone in seconds as well.
Media reports suggest as many as 80 percent of the spectators for the match would be from outside of South Australia.
South Australia’s legislative and business establishment had fought hard in 2013 to bring the game to Adelaide. The state’s tourism authority hopes to use the fever of this much-anticipated match as a rare opportunity to market South Australia as a tourism destination in India, not to mention many other trade and business leverages the event would provide to the state government.