This World Cup has seen explosive batting, aggressive fast bowling and games that were decided in the last over. It has been a fest of exciting, top class cricket.
Fans have loved that. Nothing better for them than their teams winning. Today Australia and India, two powerhouses of the sport, are battling in the second semifinal. The first was won by New Zealand, in a breathtakingly close game on Monday.
But apart from spectators in the shiny, newly refurbished stadiums and millions glued on TV, there are the following groups which have benefited enormously from this tournament:
1. Star TV: Star, part of Rupert Murdoch's empire, Star is charging advertisement rates of Rs 20-25 lakh for 10 seconds. This means the channel will earn Rs 30 crore from just the semi-final game alone. And if India reaches the finals, the rates will obviously rise further. India's superb performance in the world cup — it has won all games and has bowled out the opposition every time — has helped Star get prime rates. It is expected to earn between Rs 800-1,000 crore on the World Cup this year, a win by any standards.
2. ICC: The International Cricket Council is now dominated by the top three teams by way of revenue generation, namely, India, Australia and England. Among them, only England got knocked out after a poor showing. Tickets for today's semifinal game are priced higher than the first one, and Indian fans have snapped them up. It is likely that 70 percent of the crowd in the 44,000-capacity stadium will be Indians, and tickets of all prices are sold out.
3. Air India: All major airlines flying to Australia from India have raised prices. Fares are up 15-20 percent in the last one week for economy class seats, which are most in demand. Air India is the only airline that has direct flights between India and Australia and it made the most of this opportunity. Others airlines like Qantas and Singapore Airlines that have indirect flights also gained from the spike in demand. If India make it to the final, expect another 15 percent hike in fares.
4. Tourism Australia: Indians alone have boosted tourist arrivals to an all-time high. The Australian high commission in New Delhi said the number of tourist visa applications received this January was 37 percent higher than the same month last year. New Zealand's response to this was to allow visa on arrival to all tourists who have an Australian visa. Matches were spaced out by atleast five days during group stages, allowing fans to catch matches and go sightseeing in between.
5. Indian Cricket Team: The men in blue were down and out before the world cup. They lost a four-match test series, and a warm up tri-series in which Australia and England were the other two teams. No one expected them to do well — instead, Mahendra Singh Dhoni led the team to the semifinals without losing a single game, and bowled out the opposition in all games enroute. New Zealand are the only team to have done that in this tournament. India clearly benefited from playing in Australia since the beginning of the year, and their performance in this world cup has been excellent. Whatever be the result of the semifinal, India is a much stronger and more resilient team now than before the tournament.