Guwahati: Absence of stars such as Sachin Tendulkar and Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the Indian team has affected attendance in their first ODI against New Zealand, the last match to be played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here.
Being the only stadium in the seven North Eastern states to host international cricket matches, the venue used to draw huge crowd who do not mind spending even chilly nights out to get in due to the early start of the games.
However, the scene was different today for the one-day match between a new-look India under Gautam Gambhir and the Kiwis as attendance was far from satisfactory.
Only about 16,000 tickets were sold for the match in the 23,000 capacity stadium, a senior Assam Cricket Association (ACA) official said.
“Yes, this time the response was far from satisfactory as the stars preferred to take rest for the opening one-day match,” he said.
“The response was less even from the students who get concession on the price of the ticket,” he said.
Besides skipper Dhoni, India have rested star players Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh due to injury concerns ahead of the World Cup.
The five-match series against Daniel Vettori’s men is India’s last outing in the sub-continent before they begin their campaign in the World Cup to be held in February-March next year to be hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
To make the matter worse for the spectators, New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori had to sit out due to injury.
“Today’s match should have been a memorable one as it is the last match is the stadium, but there is disappointment because of absence of stars”, Rajib Saikia, a student of Cotton College, said.
The ACA has decided to host future matches at the Barsapara stadium exclusively built for cricket as the Nehru Stadium is a multi-purpose venue.
“Several cultural events and other sports including football is played in the stadium and the curator gets hardly a month to prepare the ground”, the ACA official said.
The vendors selling placards, Indian flags, and hats were also dejected as business was dull.
“We hardly get an international cricket match in this region and people wait for it. We finish selling the articles within half an hour but today we have to go back with our bags full”, Ranbir Roy, a vendor, said outside the venue.