The Bharat Army are ready to make some noise at the women's T20 Cricket World Cup opener against Australia in Sydney on Friday. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
The Bharat Army are ready to make some noise at the women's T20 Cricket World Cup opener against Australia in Sydney on Friday. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Bharat Army takes over Sydney for Cup opener

Australia's star-studded women's team risk being swept away by a sea of blue in their anticipated World Cup opener against India on Friday at Sydney Olympic Park.

The recent trend of Indian men's matches at the SCG has been for the 'Swarmi Army' to completely dominate crowd numbers and create a frenzied sub-continent style atmosphere.

At the 2015 men's ODI World Cup semi-final at the SCG, more than 75 per cent of the ground was awash with blue in one of the most extraordinary scenes ever witnessed at the ground.

 

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Indian fans are threatening the same kind of blue-out for the World Cup, with the 'Bharat Army' ready to turn Homebush into Hyderabad.

The likes of Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy and Meg Lanning are accustomed to playing in front of partisan Australian crowds on home soil, and Friday is shaping up as uncharted territory for the defending T20 champions.

Only single tickets remain in the Indian fan sections, while the pressure is on Australian fans to snap up the strongly selling tickets before the Bharat Army completes a takeover of Sydney Showgrounds Stadium.

"We have pretty much sold most of the tickets, it's going to be great," said Kunal Gandhi, the head of the Bharat Army fan group.

"We will have drummers and Dholis and Indian dancers. It will be a cracker of a game and we will keep you guys entertained.

"Even last Sunday when there was a game (Australia v India) in Canberra, three or four thousand Indian fans travelled down from Sydney to watch that match as well."

 

Ellyse Perry and Meg Lanning can expect a noisy atmosphere on Friday night.
Ellyse Perry and Meg Lanning can expect a noisy atmosphere on Friday night.

A dholi is a double-headed drum, and there will be fans roaming around the Stadium throughout creating the kind of rabid atmosphere that defines the IPL, but which women's cricket has rarely seen before.

Other drummers will be stationed in the front row of the Indian fan session, with a festival atmosphere in the making.

And India have already showed they're not here to make up the numbers.

Pushing the Australians all the way in the recent tri-series, the sleeping giants of women's cricket are capable of an enormous upset to open the tournament.

"We are pretty much pumped up especially at how the tri series went. India lost the tri series but it was like a narrow win. We are all ready for it," said Gandhi.

Virat Kohli and his men's team are afforded God-like status in the country that treats cricket like a religion, and Gandhi says a similar passion is emerging for the women's game.

 

Harmanpreet Kaur leads the Indians into battle.
Harmanpreet Kaur leads the Indians into battle.

India captain Harmanpreet Kaur is an emerging superstar, and although somewhat slow to the party compared to Australia and England - India is now starting to give women's cricket the support and weight it deserves.

"In India the only sports is cricket. Before, you could see on the streets that only boys are playing but I just came back from India three weeks back and I can see the girls are playing," said Gandhi.


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