The Indo-Pak match will arguably go down in the history as the most hyped World Cup league match ever. The sleepy town of Adelaide had never seen influx of some many visitors on one single day before. Every flight that came in from Sydney, Melbourne or even directly from Dubai (Emirates flies directly) was full with Indians and Pakistani fans. I was told over 30,000 fans came in from India, Pakistan, Singapore, Malaysia and other parts of Australia.
I must admit Adelaide Oval is one of the most beautiful stadia in the world, particularly after the facelift last year. Extremely efficient in crowd management and infrastructure, it offers comfort of a five star hotel, The day I reached Adelaide, it was boiling at 41 degrees and as luck would have it, on the day of the match the temperature fell by nearly 10 degrees with cool breeze blowing making the playing conditions very pleasant.
India won and the rest is history. For many this was as big as winning the World Cup. The night that followed in Adelaide has never been witnessed before. The famous Rundle street was buzzing with fans cheering which was quite similar to the scenes of celebrations after the famous World Cup win by India in 2011. No one slept that night in spite of many flying out early morning the very next day.
With every big match, sponsor brands and TV networks win big too. I found good onground integration by Pepsi, Emirates and Hublot. The innovation of messaging from Emirates during "Decision Pending" was engaging. So was Hublot's non-stop presence on the score boards. Pepsi ran an onground activation programme linking purchase of Pepsi cans which was effective.
At lunch I caught up with Aussie legend Dean Jones and he was hilarious to say that he didn't hold a grudge making 900 dollars for winning the World Cup in the 90s while the current champions will make just over 300,000 dollars each. He also said to keep cricket popular let India win everything including test matches. Well said Professor Deano!
The day after was no less interesting flying with the Indian cricket team to Melbourne. It was great to see the Men in Blue upbeat and confident. Felt really proud when the Qantas pilot congratulated the Indian Cricket team to a loud thunderous cheer. Well done Ravi, MS, Virat, Shikhar and the entire team.
Won't give it back! As stays the Star.
The author is Publisher, Chitralekha Group and President, AIM.