Long queues of cricket fans went home disappointed as the 9,000-odd tickets for the India-West Indies third Test earmarked for the public today were sold out even though empty seats were seen at the Wankhede Stadium.
Fans queued up at the ticket windows in anticipation of Sachin Tendulkar's much-awaited 100th international hundred. However, what was odd after the ticket counters were shut down and police had to use force to disperse the crowd was the huge number of empty seats seen at the Wankhede Stadium when the third day's play was in progress.
The explanation given by Maharashtra Cricket Association officials was that the 4,800 tickets bought by the Garware Club house as per its agreement with the match organisers were not collected by the latter after a dispute.
"They sent money for the tickets earmarked for them and we had kept them ready. But four days before the match they wanted to buy only a reduced number of 3,300 tickets which we refused," said an MCA official.
But not only were the seats reserved for Garware unoccupied, there were a number other seats even in the popular east stand which could not be availed of by fans who really wanted to come and see the day's play.
"Some sponsors and other gymkhanas may have taken the tickets and not come to watch," was the explanation offered. But despite so many empty seats, the day witnessed the best crowd seen for the match as on the first two days only around 10,000 fans had watched the proceedings in the 33,000 capacity stadium.
Today's crowed was in excess of 15,000. Fans had lined up outside at the Mumbai Hockey Association premises more than an hour before commencement of play on day three of the match.
Police personnel and the private security guards employed by the MCA had to swing into action to control the crowd and allow for smooth entry into the stadium that had been revamped ahead of the World Cup held earlier this year.