Largest African crowd to honour Tendulkar, Ntini

Updated: Jan 04, 2011, 18:35 PM IST

Johannesburg: South African President Jacob Zuma and a host of Bollywood stars led by Shahrukh Khan will be joined by the biggest crowd ever at a cricket match on the African continent to honour iconic batsman Sachin Tendulkar and paceman Makhaya Ntini at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Sunday.

Sales for the Pro20 match between India and South Africa, which will be followed by the Bollywood extravaganza, have already reached 37,000 and are expected to go past 40,000-mark after Cricket South Africa (CSA) yesterday released another 700 tickets for distribution to clubs administered by the provincial KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union at R100 each.

CSA Chief Executive Officer Gerald Majola said that this would be the first cricket match ever to be played in the award-winning Moses Mabhida Stadium, which was built for the FIFA 2010 World Cup that was hosted by the African continent for the first time last year.

He also added that the cricket match on January 9 may pave the way for more Pro20 games at the venue.

"If this is successful, we will play one or two matches there every year," Majola said.

The match, followed by The New Age Friendship Concert will bring to an end a year of celebrations of the arrival of the first indentured labourers from India in November 1860.

Shahrukh Khan, currently on a holiday in Dubai, is expected to fly in just for the show and jet out again immediately.

Others stars who will be a part of the show include Priyanka Chopra, Shahid Kapoor and Anil Kapoor, who was appointed an ambassador for South Africa by former President Thabo Mbeki in Parliament a few years ago.

Meanwhile, Majola had admitted to the Afrikaans daily Beeld that the Cricket Board did not get much support from the local municipality in Durban, which had first mooted the idea of the concert and was supposed to have funded it.

The cricket boss said that communications problems had resulted in messages not getting to the right people in the municipality, so the task fell to CSA to ensure that fans were not disappointed.

"It was quite a challenge, because it is something we have no experience about. Nonetheless, I believe everything will work out well and that it will be an unforgettable experience," Majola added.