Cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni addresses a press conference at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali.
The cricket diplomacy plus the frenzy can turn Wednesday's semi-final match between India and Pakistan at Mohali as one of the most watched cricket matches ever.
The hype and the brouhaha over the match could help ESPN-Star Sports, the official broadcaster of the ICC cricket World Cup, earn more than 40 television viewership rating points. A rating point means about 1.5 crore people have watched the programme live on that day.
"We expect between 60-80 crore Indians to watch the live telecast," said an official of an advertising agency, who has booked the available space, despite the prices being jacked, for advertisement both on ESPN-Star Sports and Doordarshan for the match.
India-Pakistan cricket matches have always been highly watched.
The 2003 World Cup pool match between India and Pakistan in South Africa, considered a classic one-day clash, got peak television rating of 32.45 in India, highest for any cricket match India had played since the rating systems was introduced.
India-Pakistan match in 2003 world cup : TRP rating, 32.45
India Pakistan match in 2007 T-20 World Cup: TRP rating, 9.52
India Australia quarter final match in 2011 world cup : TRP, 6.53
India Pakistan semi-final match: Expected TRP of 40.
The number of people, who watched the match, was over three times the viewers for other 2003 world cup matches.
"On an average 40 crore people were glued to television sets in 2003 when reach of television was much less," an official with sports broadcasting company said.
Such a craze for a cricket match was not witnessed ever again though India and Pakistan clashed again in 2007 T-20 World Cup. It got a television rating 9.5, just a point higher than other matches, says the data provided by Television Audience and Measurement (TAM), a company in the business of measuring performance of television programmes.
The mass following of India-Pakistan match as compared to others can be gauged from the fact that the highest watched cricket game in 2011 World Cup was the quarter final between India and Australia played in Ahemdabad last Thursday.
The match earned 6.53 rating and was watched by over nine crore people. On average, matches in the 2011 world cup had got rating of 4.12.
The titanic semi-final match will be different ball game.
"Much will depend on performance of the team that bats first," the broadcaster said.