Crowd for MCG final could break record

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Melbourne, March 26 (IANS) Two of the key attendance milestones reached at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) could be trumped by Sunday’s World Cup final.

The 1992 World Cup in the Antipodes drew a crowd of 87,182 for the final between Pakistan and England which the former won. That was well in excess of the crowd that attended the 1987 final at the expansive Eden Gardens in Kolkata, which was estimated at 70,000.

The other most notable record achieved at the MCG came 15 months ago when the first day of the Boxing Day Test attracted 91,112, the biggest recorded crowd for a day of Test cricket, reports The Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday.

World Cup organising committee chief executive John Harnden declined to predict a crowd figure for the final but said he has not been sweating on the outcome of Thursday’s semifinal because of the significant following for both Australia and India.

Harnden predicted the first qualifier for the final, New Zealand, would attract support beyond their travelling and expat fans because of the distinct passion they have demonstrated throughout the tournament.

“New Zealand is going to have a lot of fans really willing them on for the style of cricket they’re playing,” he said.

Harnden said the mood of the crowd in all MCG’s four group matches — Australia-England, South Africa-India, Sri Lanka-Bangladesh and India-Bangladesh — had fortified his hopes that “Sunday is going to be one of the great experiences in sport”.

South Africa and India drew 86,876, an astonishing, and deafening, turnout for non-Australian teams during the group stage.

“We’ve been single-minded about getting that passion and enthusiasm and buy-in from all the different cultural groups and communities that are taking part. It’s really pleasing to see that come to fruition,” he said.

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