Gavaskar tips big Indian crowds at World Cup

AFP| Updated: Feb 14, 2014, 12:44 PM IST

Wellington: New Zealand and Australia can expect an influx of Indian fans for next year`s Cricket World Cup as the world champions look to defend their title, legendary batsman Sunil Gavaskar said Friday.

Marking the one-year countdown to the event, Gavaskar said Indian fans were keen to relive the joy of 2011, when they became the first team to win the one-day tournament on home soil.

He said victory in the 1983 World Cup was the highlight of his career, but the Indian public`s devotion to the game went up even higher with the win in Mumbai in 2011, meaning fans were likely to be out in force next year.

"There were so many people on the streets of (Mumbai), you just couldn`t go anywhere," he told reporters in Wellington.

"It was absolutely massive. That`s the passion that Indians have for this game. I`m pretty certain that the Indians will be coming here to enjoy their cricket and partake of the magnificent hospitality."

India are in a challenging pool for next year`s event that includes South Africa, Pakistan and the West Indies. They play matches in both New Zealand and Australia.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said the event promised to be a huge spectacle.

"It`s going to get rolled out to 182 countries, over a billion people will watch the Cricket World Cup, that`s a fifth of the world`s population, so it`s going to be a magnificent event," he said.

Key said the host nations had made it easier for overseas fans to travel to the tournament by introducing a single trans-Tasman entry visa for the event, so they did not need to fill out paperwork for each country.

New Zealand great Richard Hadlee said the Black Caps, riding high after a 4-0 one-day series win over India, needed to overcome a psychological hurdle if they were to win the tournament.

He said New Zealand bore the mental scars of reaching the semi-finals six times but never going on to claim the trophy.

"If we can replicate the form that we`re in now in 12 months time then we`re in with a shot," he said.

"But we do have that mental barrier don`t we? Six previous semi-finals but we`ve not gone beyond that.

"If we can make the semi-final and dig deep then it`s 50-50 on the day when you`re in the final, so we can live in hope."

The World Cup will be held from February 14 to March 15, 2015 with 49 matches played in 14 venues across the two host nations.