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Delhi in grip of cricket fever

Staff Reporter

Lucky ones get Kotla tickets, Pak fans arrive

NEW DELHI: Delhi is in the grip of a cricket fever. On the first day of the sale of tickets for the sixth One-Day International match between India and Pakistan on Friday, hundreds of cricket fans queued up outside the two ticket counters since early morning. However, only a few lucky ones managed to secure the tickets to witness the match at the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium here this coming Sunday.

Getting a ticket turned out to be an arduous affair for the fans, thanks to the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) that has reserved just 7,000 tickets for the general public. Of the 12,000-odd seats for the public, 2,050 tickets have been handed over to the Pakistan Cricket Board, while 3,000 tickets have been reserved for the DDCA League Club members.

So, when a large number of people gathered outside the Central Bank of India's Parliament Street and Kashmere Gate branches, where the two ticket counters have been set up, chaos reigned supreme and the security personnel deployed there had a tough time managing the crowds. While tickets in the denomination Rs. 11,000, Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 1,000 are being sold through the Parliament Street branch, the Rs. 400 ticket and students passes valued at Rs.200 were being sold at the Kashmere Gate branch.

However, the sale of tickets was not a smooth affair as a restless crowd outside the sale counters shouted slogans against the DDCA alleging that it had failed to provide enough tickets for the fans. All tickets were sold out by evening, barring a few Rs. 11,000 ones.

People who braved hot weather and stood almost throughout the day in the queue at the counters alleged that some tickets were sold in black just outside the bank's Parliament Street branch, a charge denied by the Delhi police. Some eyewitnesses claimed that two foreigners had bought Rs.1,000-ticket for Rs. 5000 in black from near the bank.

Meanwhile, Pakistani cricket fans began arriving in the Capital on Friday evening for the Sunday match. Carrying their country flags, a group of fans landed at the Ambedkar Stadium here by the Sada-e-Sarhad bus this evening. Apart from contest on the field, several other special programmes have been lined up for the fans. They include cultural programmes, free sightseeing tours and special dinners hosted by political leaders and ministers.

A non-government organisation -- Lok Abhiyan -- has chalked out a special programme for Pakistani fans visiting Old Delhi. According to the NGO's head and BJP leader, Vijay Goel, tourist assistance centres would also be opened at Chandni Chowk, while the entire Old Delhi would be decked up for the occasion. Similarly, the DTTDC has organised free trips for visitors besides announcing free entry at Dilli Haat.

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