The answer to the riddle of why only 41,587 turned up at a sold-out Adelaide Oval for the India v Pakistan Cricket World Cup match that tournament organsiers had allocated 48,000 tickets for may lie with the extreme heat the city endured on Sunday, and a plane delay that reportedly turned violent in Delhi.
India v Pakistan: Recap and highlights
A South Australian Cricket Association spokesman confirmed with cricket.com.au that due to having sight screens at each end of the ground there was never a chance for the redeveloped ground’s record attendance of 52,663 – set during the Adelaide Strikers’ KFC T20 Big Bash League semi final against Sydney Sixers last month - to be broken.
That record was achieved with the help of an extra corporate ticket allocation available for that match.
A World Cup television commentator was among those wondering why the crowd for tonight’s clash was not at capacity, Mark Nicholas suggesting during the broadcast people had been ‘duped’ into believing every seat at the ground would be filled.
But an ICC spokesman told cricket.com.au that while there is no way to explain exactly why around 6,000 people opted not to use their allocated tickets, the heat may have been a factor.
With the temperature soaring around the 38-degree mark, the spokesman said it’s possible a significant number of $5 tickets for children sold for the match may not have been used by parents concerned about the heat.
And if reports from The Times of India are accurate, the final crowd number would almost certainly have been affected by a an Air India plane delay as well.
The newspaper said there were ‘violent clashes’ at Delhi International Airport after Air India’s 302 flight bound for Australia, carrying hundreds of cricket fans trying to reach Adelaide for the start of the match, was significantly delayed due to a cabin crew shortage.
An Air India spokesman reportedly hoped "the flight will take off in time and passengers be able to reach Australia in time for the match".
However when it was clear the plane would not reach Australia anywhere near its scheduled 6:40am arrival into Sydney and thus leave no chance for connecting flights to be made to Adelaide before the match, passengers “got into heated arguments and fisticuffs with the airline staff”.
"Crew supposed to operate AI's other flights were asked by security to take some other route to reach their aircraft so that they could avoid being manhandled by the angry Australia-bound passengers," an airport source apparently told The Times Of India.
Air India is the only airline, Indian or foreign, to operate a direct flight from India to Australia.
The fans that did find their way to the ground for the match were treated to a Virat Kohli master-class, the man of the match scoring his 22nd ODI century in India’s 76-run win over Pakistan.
The big crowd at Adelaide follows a monster World Cup crowd of 84,336 at the MCG on Saturday for Australia’s win over England.