It is estimated that the biggest TV audience ever to watch a cricket match witnessed India beat Pakistan by 29 runs in today’s much anticipated semi-final in Mohali. Billed as the Mother of All Cricket Matches, the prize at stake was a place in Sunday’s Final against England’s conquerors Sri Lanka.
The match, staged in an electryifying atmosphere, was attended by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistan counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani, who took turns to shake hands with players from both teams before the match.
It was a match played in the right spirit with captains Shahid Afridi and Mahendra Dhoni showing warm respect before the contest between two of world sport’s greatest rivals.
Not only did India and Pakistan come to a standstill. But so too did Asian communities around Britain. With India boasting the world’s second largest population – one in six of the global count of 6.9 billion – some experts are predicting that the TV audience could have topped one billion.
In February this year a record TV audience of 111 million in the USA watched the Green Bay Packers’ 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Texas, according to data released by broadcaster Fox – topping the previous year’s record by 5 million. That’s over one in three of the population. A similar turnout in India and Pakistan alone would register an audience of around 450 million for today’s cricket semi-final.