As arch-rivals Pakistan and India gear up for the semi-final clash, die-hard Pakistan cricket fans are having a hard time getting tickets to watch the match at the stadium in Mohali.
According to the organisers at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium, Mohali, where the match is scheduled for March 30, tickets were sold out soon after it became apparent that India might play Pakistan in the semi-final. The stadium can hold 28,000 people of which, PCA officials said, 16,500 tickets were sold in record time. The rest, they said, had been bought by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for its guests and officials.
“I am deeply disappointed because I will not be able to catch the action live,” said shop-owner Rizwan Abbasi. “I ran from pillar to post to get tickets and even contacted the Indian High Commission but to no avail.”
“We are as deserving as any Indian fan because we could have hosted the game had the ICC not removed us from the [host] list,” said Asad Muslim, a cellular company executive. “There is a bias towards us and our authorities should raise their voice against it.”
“We wanted to go support our team which is our right but I am utterly dejected with the way the organisers have deprived us of it,” said Shahid Rao, another desperate fan.
While fans have tried and failed, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is also having trouble getting tickets for dignitaries.
“We wanted to buy tickets for top dignitaries but no tickets are available,” PCB spokesperson Nadeem Sarwar said. “We are trying to arrange some but haven’t received a convincing reply from the organisers yet.”
ICC shifts blame
When Pakistan was removed as co-host of World Cup 2011, the ICC had said that it would facilitate Pakistan fans attend matches in the country’s South Asian neighbours.
But now, the ICC has refused to take the blame for unavailability of tickets.
“Tickets had been open for sale online for a considerable length of time,” ICC’s Head of Media and Communications Colin Gibson said. “Fans from other countries took their chances on the possibility of their teams’ matches and bought tickets in advance. The same should have been done by Pakistan fans,” he said.
The situation isn’t any easier for Indian fans it seems, as hundreds of people were seen queuing at the ground on Saturday despite PCA’s announcement on Tuesday that the 14,000 available tickets had been sold.
But some supporters simply refused to believe tickets were no longer available. “I have been coming here since Monday, but have not been able to get a ticket,” Vikas Sharma, a businessman, told the Press Trust of India.
However, there have been numerous reports of a thriving black market in tickets for the showpiece encounter with prices rocketing 10-fold.
“The tickets for 250 rupees are available at 2,200 rupees while a 1,000-rupee ticket can only be bought for 8,000 rupees,” said Mohali student Sahil Kapoor.
(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2011.