Packed Stadiums were a constant at ICC CWC 2023

The ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 proved to be one big party as passionate Indian fans including The Bharat Army once again showcased to the hilt that they truly breathe this sport as over a million of them thronged to the 10 venues to paint the stadiums with their unrelenting passion.

Before the start of this World Cup, there were loads of question marks from certain sections around whether non-India ODIs would attract fans to the stadiums. Images of sparsely populated stadiums kept floating around on social media during the first week. 

But, as it happened, across the 7 weeks, the Indian fans proved that their passion for this sport isn't only restricted to the Indian matches as they drove en masse towards the neutral games across the length and breadth of the country and saw stadiums packed to the rafters.

According to the data released by the ICC, a record 1, 250, 307 fans passed through the stadium gates to make this World Cup the most-attended event ever.

The figure surpassed the previous record held by the 2015 WC held in Australia and New Zealand, where 1,016,420 spectators passed through the turnstiles.

The sight of thousands of fans flashing their lights during the laser show painted a truly scenic picture where the lines between sport and art were truly entwined. The packed stadiums for neutral matches also showed that ODI cricket is alive and kicking, you just need to add context to it.

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What ICC Head Of Events Said On Record-Breaking Viewing Numbers

Chris Tetley--- "The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 has been a great success, showcasing the best aspects of the game and capturing the hearts of hundreds of millions of fans across the world. The staggering attendance demonstrates the enduring appeal of cricket and the excitement the ODI format continues to offer. It has been an event that has not only entertained but also united cricket fans globally in a celebration of the sport.

CWC23: When Team India and its 12th Man Created a Theatre Like No Other

A sea of  blue swept across every stadium

While the neutral matches continued to be sold out, the real party, of course, took place wherever the home side played.

The Men in Blue played at each of the 10 venues during the round-robin stage and as their caravan kept soaring to new heights, the Bharat Army continued to create an atmosphere so magical that even a bare sight evoked goosebumps.

No matter where the Indian team played, the stadiums were painted in a sea of blue, with colors of national pride in sync with raw emotions.

Of course, it helped that the Indian team played like warriors throughout, and their relentless display on the field was aptly complimented by the raucous, passionate fans.

The sight of the entire stadium singing her heart out during the national anthem at the start of games was a sight to behold.

Who can forget India vs Pakistan match at the Narendra Modi Stadium, where a 100,000 packed the venue to the rafters to create a cauldron, which aptly synced with the on-field performance of the Men in Blue?

Fans roar in unison as Jasprit Bumrah takes off [Image Source- BCCI]

Who can forget the collective roar every time an Indian bowler dismantled a batsman or the moment when the entire crowd rose in the background every time Rohit Sharma smashed a six or Mohammed Shami knocked over timber?

The crowd was at its theatrical best especially when our fast bowlers steamed in with their tails up. As the likes of Bumrah, Shami, and Siraj took off in search of their next victim, the collective chants from the fans created an atmosphere of hostility and inevitably.

And, of course, at the centre of it, was the ultimate showman in the form of Virat Kohli, who directed all the moves that the fans made. The fans, as they always do, obliged their ringmaster every time he asked them to create an atmosphere every time our bowlers kept steaming in.

Of course, when he was batting, the fans could not focus on anyone else as they ran through a plethora of emotions ranging from excitement, tension, nervousness, jaw-dropping awe, agony (whenever he got dismissed before a century), and unlimited joy as the King established his Kingdom at the grandest stage of them all.

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When "Kohli ko bowling do" reverberated across the stadium

The Bharat Army

The sight of thousands roaring in unison every time Virat smashed a boundary or when he completed his century, was something for everyone to record, frame, and savor for future generations.

However, when he was on the field, there was just emotion. All they wanted was to see their “wrong-footed inswinging menace”  bowl, and they made it pretty clear in every game by continuously chanting “Kohli ko bowling do (Give bowling to Virat Kohli)”

The chant soon became an anthem, and the fans finally got what they wanted as the champion cricketer not only rolled his arms over but also managed to pick up a wicket.

And, believe me, the roar from the Bharat Army the moment he took that wicket was louder than the ones after he got a century.

And, not only Virat, but the crowd also got to see Rohit Sharma roll his arms over and take a wicket. You can pretty much imagine the euphoria in the stadium after that.

A sea of blue

Speaking of Rohit, the crowd had only two reactions every time the “Hitman” came out to bat. The overwhelming reaction was of “awe” as the opener went about smashing the new ball with disdain. And, the second reaction, well, was of bitter disappointment every time he got out without converting those 40s into daddy hundreds.

The World Cup campaign proved to be the stuff of dreams for the Indian fans as they saw their team operate at such a superior level as compared to their opponents. The juggernaut kept rolling on before it eventually ran out of steam in the final.

The campaign ended in tears, however let’s take a moment and applaud the fans for painting this tournament with the colors of their passion, and a wide range of emotions. After all, they are the soul of this sport, and the past 7 weeks gave us enough evidence that the fire in the soul is burning as bright as ever.

Featured Image Credit: The Bharat Army