No takers for first tie at Eden Gardens

Updated: Mar 14, 2011, 19:11 PM IST

Kolkata: The historic Eden Gardens will finally get to host its first match in the ongoing World Cup but an empty stadium awaits the South Africa-Ireland tie on Tuesday as there is little interest among the spectators here.

There are no official figures but sources said Cricket Association of Bengal has so far managed to sell about 2400 tickets for the three fixtures scheduled at the venue – South Africa vs Ireland (March 15), Ireland vs the Netherlands (March 18) and Zimbabwe vs Kenya (March 20).

"We have so far sold tickets of worth Rs 24 lakh 89 thousand," CAB treasurer Subir Ganguly said.

With the denominations of tickets being Rs 1000 and 700, the number of ticket buyers would not be more than 2500.

Eden Gardens had witnessed some of the historic moments of the World Cup including Australian Allan Border lifting the 1987 trophy in front of one lakh-plus crowd besides the doomed 1996 semifinal between India and Sri Lanka.

But this time, the three-matches are set to be played in front of empty stands, after the India-England match which was scheduled here on February 27 was shifted to Bangalore due to delay in construction work at the Eden Gardens.

Of the three matches, tomorrow`s tie involves a big team in South Africa while the remainder two will be day matches between minnows. So, it remains to be seen how many spectators will fill up the renovated stands in the last two matches.

However, both South Africa and Ireland cannot wait to play at Eden Gardens.

"Coming to India, Eden Gardens you always hear as one of the big grounds. Like going to England and playing at Lord`s. There`s a lot of history at the ground and it`s obviously massive as well," Ireland skipper William Porterfield said.

"The lads are looking forward to getting out there. We`ve obviously got two games here, so pretty special. It will obviously be nice ... good to have a few people cheering your side," he said.

South African coach Corrie van Zyl said, "Eden Gardens is just a special place to play cricket at. It`s awesome to be back. It looks good so looking forward to it."

The second biggest cricket ground in the world after the MCG in Melbourne, Eden Gardens was scheduled to host four World Cup matches but missed out on the high-profile game between India and England on February 27 due to delay in renovation work. The match was later shifted to Bangalore.

The decision came as a huge shock for the cricket fans with the Eden being the only venue in the eastern zone of India. CAB chief Jagmohan Dalmiya had termed it a conspiracy.

Eden Gardens now boasts a modern look but with the capacity reduced from 90,000 to 65,000.