The game that stopped two nations turned a tranquil Australian city into the heart of the Indian subcontinent.

Adelaide has never had an audience like it.

The sleepy South Australian capital was transformed into a heaving mass of colour and noise when it hosted Sunday's World Cup fixture between bitter foes India and Pakistan.

One fan entering the ground summed up the prevailing feeling.

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"If there is anything bigger in cricket than a World Cup match between India and Pakistan, please let me know," said Rahil Seth, a 45-year-old Indian businessman from Melbourne.

Depending on the feats of 22 cricketers in a game that means more to their people than any other, one nation would be plunged into mourning, the other pure joy - even though this only day two of a six-week tournament.

There was a predicted worldwide television audience nearing 1.5 billion people - more than 1000 times the population of Adelaide.

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There was a capacity crowd nudging 47,000 - 35,000 of them visitors, who long ago snapped up tickets in just 20 minutes to ensure a sell-out.

Indians dominated the gathering, seemingly all bringing their own national tri-coloured flag.

They drowned out bays of Pakistanis adorned in the bright green shirts of their nation's cricketers.

Together, the Indians and Pakistanis created a memorable buzz.

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India's winning of the toss produced a deafening cheer; the sight of gigantic flags of the respective nations for a pre-game ceremony prompted standing ovations.

There was no hint of hostility among fans or even players - Indian batsman Virat Kohli shared a bottle of water with Pakistani fielders in a game between nations who have such trouble sharing a border.

Many fans didn't even bother booking accommodation in Adelaide. They plan to spend Sunday night at Adelaide Airport instead.

So authorities converted the terminal into a makeshift dormitory, laying out mattresses and bean bags, scheduling Bollywood movies to play on a giant video screen and laying artificial lawns for people to watch from.

"This is the first time the terminal will be open all night," Adelaide Airport spokesman Brenton Cox said.

About 5000 fans were expected to spend the night at the airport before catching one of 19 flights out of Adelaide on Monday morning.

Estimated worldwide viewers
India v Pakistan - 2015 Cricket World Cup - 1.5 billion
Germany v Argentina - 2014 FIFA World Cup final - 1 billion
Super Bowl 48 - Seahawks v Broncos - 160 million viewers

For more coverage of the Cricket World Cup from nzherald.co.nz and NZME check out #CricketFever.

- AAP