Cricket fans wander in Mohali sans tickets
Mohali: Frenzied cricket fans have started gathering in this Punjab town even from distant countries to catch the live action of the high-voltage India-Pakistan World Cup semifinal here Wednesday but many of them are disappointed as they could not get tickets for the crucial encounter at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium.
Mohammad Bashiruddin Khan, an ardent fan of the Pakistan team, who has come from the US, said: "India and Pakistan are arch rivals and I was desperately waiting for their clash. But, on reaching Mohali PCA officials told me that there is no ticket available. I would sit on a hunger strike right outside the stadium if they do not provide me with a ticket."
"In Colombo, I got a free ticket and in Dhaka I paid only 500 takas (about Rs.307). I had also watched all Pakistan matches during the last World Cups in 2003 and 2007 in South Africa and West Indies. The Indian government is inviting Pakistani prime minister for the match, but what about Pakistani cricket fans," Khan asked.
Khan runs a restaurant in Chicago, Ghareeb Nawaz Hotel, which is famous for its briyani and chicken. He grew up in Karachi and migrated to the US in 1977 after his marriage.
Khan added: "I reached Chandigarh from Colombo yesterday (Sunday). In the flight, a man offered me a Rs.250 ticket for Rs.35,000. He told me that many influential people are also indulged in black marketing. I also tried to book tickets online, but the site crashed on the very first day."
However, Khan was bowled over by the warm hospitality of Indians. "I have realised that Indians and Pakistanis are very close to each other. I have so many health problems but still I am standing outside the stadium under the sun. I am cracking jokes with Indians. Many people have come to me offering water," he said.
Ajay Sharma, an engineer working in Toronto in Canada, told IANS: "I had planned my holidays in such a way that I could see the semifinal match in the stadium while I am at my home in Chandigarh. But it looks totally impossible. I could not get the ticket. It`s really disappointing."
Sanjay Kumar, a hard-core young cricket fan from Jharkhand, has been camping outside the PCA stadium for the last four days.
"The website said that all the tickets were sold on the first day, but I am still trying my luck. Many black markeeters have offered the Rs.250 ticket for Rs.20,000 to Rs.35,000. But I do not have that much of money. I think I have to sell one of my kidneys to arrange that kind of money,!" Kumar told IANS.
The crucial India-Pakistan day-night semifinal will be played Wednesday at the PCA Stadium here, some 10 km from Chandigarh. The stadium, one of the most ultra-modern cricket venues in the country, has a pitch with a reputation for being lively and supporting both batsmen and pace bowlers.
Built in 1992, the Mohali stadium can accommodate 28,000 spectators.