Desi feel in Aussie air as fans fly down to Sydney

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 26 Maret 2015 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Probably for the first time in history, Australian skipper Micheal Clarke and his boys will find today that the Sydney stadium is no longer their home ground. The 42,000-seat venue would mysteriously seem to be India as it will be largely packed with Indians, quite a number of them from Mumbai. The home ground advantage would clearly be with the Men in Blue.

According to World Cup organizers, Indian fans have bought about 70% of the tickets for the semifinal match. The effect is already visible Down Under. "The international flight from Auckland to Sydney today seemed like an Indian domestic flight with conversations being held in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Telugu and Tamil. Going by the indications given here, the ratio of blue to yellow at the stadium will be 90:10," said Ravi Raman, who heads a financial company in Mumbai and is in Sydney to catch the match.

A spokesperson of the Australian high commission said, "Over three months (December 2014 to February 2015) we received a total of 38,663 tourist visa applications. In the same period a year ago, we received 28,199 applications."

Deven Ghabawala, a chartered accountant from Mumbai, was chilling out in Darling Harbour late on Wednesday evening with five friends when he spoke to TOI. "This morning, I was on a Metro, which went past Sydney's domestic and international airports and I saw about 50-60 Indians, all cricket fans, get onto the train at the airport station," he said. "If the view from the harbour is blue, it is because 2,000-3,000 Indians are milling around in their team's colours."

Siddharth Raman, who works for an advertising firm, watched the India-South Africa match and said the Melbourne ground could have been in Mumbai. "In the 90,000-seat stadium, about 80,000 spectators were Indians," he said. The adrenaline spike began just after he and his wife alighted at the Melbourne central Metro station for the ten-minute walk to the stadium. They ran into Indians playing the dhol, with faces painted in tricolour, in blue T-shirts, with placards... An unforgettable moment came before the match began when the stadium got on its feet to sing the Indian national anthem. "It was booming. I've never heard Jana Gana Mana reverberate so deeply and loudly. It gave me goosebumps," he said.

What added to the experience was the way things were managed. Ravi Raman, who saw a match in Auckland, said there was no sledging, comments... "This standard was maintained off the field and in the crowd. The Auckland administration had announced free train and bus travel to the stadium and back for all those with match tickets."

Jay Bhatia, chairman, Travel Agents Association of India, said, "With India in the semis, bookings and inquiries for Australia has gone up greatly. Getting hotel rooms is becoming harder. Normally, the rate for a 3-star room there is Rs 6,000-9,000, but now it is over Rs 30,000."

Amit Taneja, chief revenue officer, Cleartrip, said, "After India's progress to the semis, we saw a 346% jump in bookings for destinations like Adelaide, as compared to the same period last year."

The airline industry had indeed expected this level of interest. Before the matches began, Air India, which operates to Australia out of Delhi, introduced a menu with dishes like Raina's Cheesy Pull Shot, Sachin's Sweet Drive, Dhoni's Swashbuckling Super Sixer, and Captain Smith's Catch of the Season. Singapore Airlines' general manager, India, David Lau said they have seen more than 10% growth in demand to Australia from India.

Nishant Kashikar, country manager (India & Gulf), Tourism Australia, said, "Indian cricket enthusiasts also have the opportunity to enjoy a holiday visiting popular attractions, including the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Great Ocean Road, the Great Barrier Reef, Kangaroo Island, and Uluru, among others."

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