Rajkot: Navratri festivities may be in full swing in the city, but it’s cricket that’s dominated the consciousness of a majority of Rajkot’s residents for the last several days.
With the third ODI between India and South Africa (to be played here on Sunday) just round the corner, there is tangible excitement in the air, especially, with both the teams having already arrived in Rajkot. The Indian and South African cricketers landed in the city on Thursday evening. It was widely believed by many enthusiasts that at least some Indian stars would visit a garba venue and may even join in the participate in the festivities. But instead of visiting any garba venue, the Indian team headed to local boy Cheteshwar Pujara’s home for a sumptuous meal.
Pujara himself was there to escort his India colleagues to his residence. The event was kept a secret and nobody except the Pujaras were present during the three hours the cricketers spent there relishing delicious Gujarati fare.
Special arrangements were reportedly made for the Men in Blue, with even a hookah there and some players were said to have given in to the temptation. With no practice yesterday, both the teams enjoyed the much-needed ‘rest day’ and were more or less confined to their hotel rooms.
Tickets sold out?
In a dramatic development, the Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) authorities declared, that “the sale of tickets is over” just a few hours after the ticket counter opened at the Madhavrao Scindia Cricket Ground yesterday, much to the chagrin and anger of hundreds of cricket enthusiasts waiting in the one-km long queue.
Since the counters had been selling at a snail’s pace, the locals were suspicious and not convinced that the tickets were over. Angry and frustrated, the gathered crowd began breaking the barricades and the boards announcing the close of sale and had to be dispersed by the police. It is learnt that SCA officials have sold tickets and not only at the counter, which was kept open for a little over three days.
With the agitating Patidars threatening to disrupt the match “silently”, 2,100 policemen and women will be deployed inside and outside the stadium. “We have identity proofs and other records of all the ticket holders. Troublemakers will not be spared. If found guilty of unlawful actions, they will be booked for criminal conspiracy,” Superintendent of Police Gagandeep Gambhir told mid-day.