Big time cricket returns to Kotla

By Bharat Sharma, IANS
Thursday, February 24, 2011

Feb 24, New Delhi (IANS) As the sun set and the floodlights at the historic Ferozeshah Kotla were turned on, more spectators trickled into the stadium for the South Africa-West Indies World Cup match Thursday.

It is the first of the four World Cup games here at Kotla which will also host India’s encounter with the Netherlands.

The turnout though was not as one would have expected for a World Cup match as there were quite a few rows of empty seats.

The stadium may not have been packed, but the numbers were impressive for a non-India match. Outside the stadium, hundreds of fans flocked to the ticket counters while others waited in long lines to get inside the stadium. A lone hawker was spotted selling vuvuzelas and South African flags.

Many felt this match will be more exciting than the keenly anticipated India-Netherlands tie later in the competition.

Delhi was hosting an international match after a year, but the fans were not only from Delhi. There were many from other parts of the country and also overseas.

John Lilley from England was seen standing in the queue at a ticket window, but has to turn away empty-handed. Lilley said his loyalties remained with England, but he wanted to see Thursdays match purely for the love of the game.

“I am expecting it to be a good match. Unfortunately, I dont have the ticket. They say tickets are sold out. This is actually the first real match for me in this World Cup, so far all the matches have been one-sided,” Lilley told IANS.

“I will now try for the India-England match in Bangalore.”

Three MBA aspirants from Bikaner had a day left in the capital and they thought the best way of spending it was to watch the match.

“This is the first time I will be watching a World Cup match live,” Deepak Solanki told IANS.

“We had a day left here and we thought what better way to spend it than watching a cricket match. We might not get another opportunity like this.”

Faizul Rahman, a Delhi-based design engineer, compared the atmosphere of an IPL match to this one.

“The buzz here shows that World Cup is still miles ahead of the IPL in terms of mass popularity. This should be better than the India match later. I am a Chris Gayle fan and looking forward to see him bat,” said Rahman. Unfortunately for him, Gayle got out in the first over itself.

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