Cricket World Cup: India fans travel from Singapore to England

World map of the route (from Singapore to England)

At 46 days, the Cricket World Cup is among the longest of sports tournaments, occasionally conjuring up thoughts of what else you could complete in that time.

For three generations of one cricket-mad family, almost the same number of days have been used to complete the road trip of a lifetime.

Totalling just under 14,000 miles, visiting 17 different countries and crossing two continents from Singapore to England via the equator and Arctic Circle, these India fans hope the journey ends with their country lifting the World Cup at Lord's on 14 July.

The Mathur family - from three-year-old daughter Avya to 67-year-old grandfather Akhilesh - left Singapore in their seven-seater people carrier on 20 May and, 48 days later, reached London on Thursday night.

After watching India's victory against Sri Lanka at Headingley on Saturday, perhaps the greatest challenge of their trip remains - getting hold of tickets for the semi-final against New Zealand at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

'Paint the world red'

So why spend seven weeks in a car - going through snow, hail and desert storms - to watch your country play cricket when a direct flight would be so much easier?

"Back in March, we knew the World Cup was coming and we thought we must be there to support India," father-of-two Anupam told BBC Sport.

"The easiest way to do it would be to fly, but then we thought, 'no, let's do something special for the country, let's include everyone'."

Mathur family arrive in London
The Mathur family and friends took 48 days to reach London from Singapore by road via the Arctic Circle

That aim to include everyone means Anupam's parents Akhilesh and Anjana and his six-year-old son Aviv have come along for the whole ride while his wife Aditi, 34, and younger daughter Avya have also been passengers for a considerable chunk of the journey.

And this is not the first time Anupam has decided to get behind the wheel and see the world.

A quick look through the family's blog reveals that he had travelled just under 60,000 miles (96,000km), driving through 36 countries before this latest trip.

Now another 22,000km can be added to that total, with the following countries all passed through on the cricketing quest.

  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Thailand
  • Laos
  • China
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Uzbekistan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Russia
  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • France
  • England (with visits to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland to come)

"Since childhood, my dream has been to drive and do long distance driving trips," Anupam said. "The ultimate dream was to drive around the world.

"I've been keeping track of all my road trips on a blue map of the world that doesn't show borders and painting a red line on each one.

"The ultimate goal is to paint the world red!"

Through snow, hail, wind and rain to Headingley

The Mathur family leave Singapore at the start of their journey
The family were "flagged off" at the Indian High Commission in Singapore at the start of their journey

The morning after they reach London, I meet the Mathur family just a Rohit Sharma pull for six away from Lord's. Rather than looking world weary from seven solid weeks of travelling, they are beaming having finally arrived at the World Cup, taking in the atmosphere as Pakistan and Bangladesh fans walk past ahead of the day's group game

From London they are excited to be making the relatively short trip up the M1 to Leeds in time to watch India against Sri Lanka the next day.

Every inch of the trip has been covered in their seven-seater people carrier, a vehicle that comes complete with Anupam's custom paintwork on the exterior, illustrating the route and the countries they have visited.

The Toyota Vellfire the Mathur family have driven from Singapore to London in
The Mathur family have driven from Singapore to London in a seven-seater Toyota Vellfire

"We call ourselves AMX Paint It Red," Anupam says as he talks me through the vehicle. "AM because that's all our initials in the family and X because the number of us has changed throughout the trip."

A strategist for a banking group by day, Anupam and his family are originally from Chennai but he has lived and worked in Singapore for 14 years.

But what gave him to spend all the time on the road just to see some cricket?

"I started to look at how we could do it by road, what countries we needed to go through and I then I realised that it was all connected," Anupam said.

"Then we started planning it in super detail, applied for what felt like a million visas and and it's all come together."

Luck has certainly been on their side, they only had to change route once to safely cross borders through south east Asia and they have stuck almost perfectly to the itinerary, only having to cancel one hotel reservation because of delays.

"Some of the countries like Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan are some of the most beautiful places and landscapes I've ever seen, but before this trip, I hadn't even heard of them" Anupam says.

The Mathur family in Xinjiang Province, China
China was the country the family spent the longest travelling through, including here in Xinjiang Province
Mathur family in Samarkand, Uzbekistan
All seven of the Mathur family were together when they reached Samarkand in Uzbekistan
Outside the Kremlim in Moscow
A visit to the Kremlin while in Moscow

"We've been fortunate to have had some really experienced guides with us in some countries, who've been absolutely invaluable.

"We also took a bit of a detour in China, so we could visit the southern-most point of the mainland and the western-most point.

"With the Arctic Circle, we also did something similar where we went just beyond it so we could cross off Sweden as another country we'd visited and see the Ice Hotel too, which was incredible.

"All these things have been to do with the passion of driving and all the way, we've been thinking - we're doing this for the country and for cricket."

Room for the World Cup on way home?

To fuel such a journey needs support from family and friends.

Anupam's parents Akhilesh and Anjana have not only helped navigate along with older son Aviv, but have also helped set up a roadside kitchen when needed to keep perked up with the comforts of home.

That proved invaluable in remote parts of China where more familiar foods were hard to come by.

The Mathur family reach the Arctic Circle
The Mathur family celebrate crossing the Arctic Circle while on the road in Sweden

"I was unsure about the idea at first in my mind because of health and the long journey," father and grandfather Akhilesh said.

"But then I decided we'll go and with full zeal so that we can see and experience new places.

"That's how we've approached it and it's been absolutely incredible."

Mother Anjana added: "The exciting part has been the fact people are the same everywhere.

"They spread love and I also want to spread peace and love for my country and for the world. Supporting India has also been a huge joy and now we're here, it's exciting to see them in action."

"It's been a once-in-a-lifetime trip, life-changing," Anupam added. "We have learned so many new things and also about how to lead our lives.

"I'm just grateful we've been able to do it. We set off with 17 bags and when he flagged us off in Singapore, the High Commissioner to India told us to leave space for an 18th so we can bring back the World Cup!"

All that remains now is for the family to get their hands on those elusive semi-final tickets and possibly some for the final as well.

Aviv Mathur in the boot of the Toyota Vellfire that travelled from Singapore to London
Aviv Mathur will hope there's room for the World Cup to travel home with them to Singapore

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