Even if you’re not a big cricket fan, there’s something about it that we all can’t resist, especially during the World Cup. Be it the local barber shop, a restaurant, a pub, or even at your office, you’ll find a way to watch the match.

Cricket is more than just a sport; it’s an emotion of love, unity, pride and joy.

So, today, let’s talk about the journey of India hosting its first World Cup in 1987— an old story that everyone deserves to know.

Dhirubhai Ambani, the man who made the 1987 World Cup happen in India!

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Before 1987, the Cricket World Cup was only held in England, and moving it out of England was almost impossible. Why? Because at that time, no other country had the financial resources and enough facilities to host such a big tournament.

But somehow, India promised 4-5 times as much money as England was offering and won the bid for hosting rights.

Though we managed to win the bid, we had to come up with about Rs. 32 crore to make it happen.

But here’s a catch: India wasn’t alone; there was another country along with India. Can you guess which one? It was Pakistan.

Out of the ~Rs. 32 crore, India had to cover 2/3rd of the cost because we were hosting most of the matches.

The money had to come from direct sponsorships and TV rights, which would come in after the tournament. 

So what could be the possible solution?

With the help of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Dhirubhai Ambani, the owner of Reliance, was convinced initially to fund the tournament.

However, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by the time India won the ICC election, and later Rajiv Gandhi had taken over as Prime Minister, who wasn’t friendly with the Ambanis.

He instructed the income tax department to keep an eye on Dhirubhai Ambani, and there was no way Reliance would sponsor the World Cup.

As part of the costs, BCCI had to pay around Rs. 4 crore to participating countries, covering things like travel expenses, production costs, and so on. 

BCCI needed money!!

And so, the cricket boards reached out to international sponsors like Coca-Cola, Gillette, Mitsubishi, etc., which were of no use, as they didn’t have enough money and could raise only Rs. 38 lakh. 

With no other options left, they turned to Dhirubhai Ambani again, who agreed to pay, but with a few conditions.

So what were the conditions?

i) He will sit next to PM during India vs Pak exhibition match,

ii) Tournament had to be renamed ‘Reliance Cup’.

He not only contributed Rs. 4 crore but about Rs. 6 crore. Additionally, he offered Rs. 1 lakh each to the captain of each participating team for promotional activities.

Around Rs. 9 crores were spent on title rights and to get Reliance’s name associated with the tournament, with his son Anil as the organiser from Reliance’s side.

The Ambani’s focused on building their brand recognition, and by 1987, the entire India and the world got to know about them. 

Today, Ambani is not just a name; it’s a brand.

Now you know why the 1987 Cricket World Cup is officially known as the Reliance Cup 1987.

Written By Shivani Singh

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