Nagpur: If getting a ticket to watch the India vs New Zealand ICC World T20 opener was hard, getting into the stadium was probably tougher for fans at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium here in Jamtha yesterday.
Thousands of fans wait to get inside the stadium even as the two captains have walked out for the toss. Pics/Harit N Joshi
Firstly, the fans had an arduous time during the warm-ups when they were informed that the Rs 100 tickets were sold at the old VCA Stadium which is located in the city. The new stadium is approximately 20kms away from the old stadium.
With the 45,000-capacity stadium being sold out for India's opener, chaos was expected at the entry points. Although the fans started queuing up a good six to seven hours before the scheduled start of 7.30 pm to avoid hassles in entering the stadium, the authorities opened the gates just three hours before the start of the game — a normal practice for all matches.
The fans, however, were left furious. "Why can't they open the gates early when they know the stadium is going to be packed for India matches at least?" asked a fan, Anish Kadam. Even as MS Dhoni and Kane Williamson walked out to toss half-an-hour before the start, thousands of fans were seen getting restless to enter the ground. That there were still empty seats seen on the top tier after the sixth over of the game was enough indication that all was not well at the entry gates.
No change in plight for the handicapped
Handicapped fans in India wishing to witness ICC World T20 games were promised better facilities when the schedule of the tournament was announced in Mumbai last December.
Handicapped fan Mohan Rathod awaits help to get into the VCA Stadium yesterday
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Anurag Thakur stressed on having all facilities in place especially for the physically challenged fans. The plight of these fans stayed the same at least at Jamtha where mid-day spotted a physically challenged fan, Mohan Rathod (27), sporting an India jersey, clueless about directions.
Rathod, who travelled more than 50kms to reach the venue, is a first-timer at a cricket match.
"My brother booked my ticket and I was lucky to get it. I thought there would be a separate entry for physically challenged fans, but I was made to stand in the long queue. I fell down when the fans went crazy as the team bus arrived. Luckily, I was helped by a policeman," said Rathod, who is appearing for his Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exams. mid-day then asked one of the volunteers to help Rathod locate his seat.
Flag without the pole
Die-hard India fan Sudhir Gautam was forced to wave his giant flag without the 5.5 feet flagpole. Although Gautam claims the security guards assured him that his pole would be allowed, it is learnt that it was finally disallowed due to security reasons. Gautam faced issues with the flagpole during the 2015 World Cup in Australia.