Several cricket fans eager to catch Sachin Tendulkar in action in his 200th and final Test Match were on Monday indignant after, which was to sell tickets for the November 14 match against the West Indies, went blank.

The online entertainment and sports ticketing company was to open its counters at 11 a.m. But the website appeared to have crashed immediately after and remained inaccessible for the rest of the day.

Denying that its site had crashed, however, claimed transactions had slowed down because of an unprecedented surge in traffic, with 19.7 million hits received in the first hour alone. The tickets are priced at Rs.500, Rs.1,500 and Rs.2,500.

Frustrated fans gathered outside the Wankhede stadium, seeking information from the authorities, amid police security. “This is Sachin’s last match. He is from Mumbai and we may not get to see it. What kind of justice is this?” asked Siddhesh Shah, a student of K.C. College, who has been visiting the stadium daily for the last week. “I have been coming here every day because there was so little information on the tickets,” he added.

There were many who travelled overnight to Mumbai in their quest for tickets. “In earlier matches too, online sales have crashed. Suddenly, the Mumbai Cricket Association has opened counters here. We did not want to take a chance,” said Dinesh Birdute, a chemist from Solapur.

Out of the 30,000-strong seating capacity for the match at the Wankhede, only 5,000 tickets have been made available to the public, the rest being allocated to cricket clubs, government agencies and sponsors. “As it is, there are such few tickets. When you sell online, the traffic is bound to shoot up because people sitting in another country [too] can buy tickets,” says 22-year-old Rahul Gupta. Complains housewife Archana Bhide: “I don’t have a credit card; how am I supposed to get a ticket? This method excludes ordinary people.”Public disappointment went viral and many vented their anger on Twitter. @vish_sheth tweeted: “They got time to reply to twitter queries and changed their Facebook cover page but didn’t get their site up, missed a lifetime opportunity.” @2n2p2b tweeted: “Kyazoonga can you please revert why is our money being deducted without confirmation. Are our tickets booked or not?” released an official statement later in the day, saying, “Demand for tickets is massive but the system is continuously transacting. . If this traffic continues to be at these high levels, it could perhaps surpass the momentum witnessed even during past Olympic Games.” However, it did not reveal how many bookings had taken place. The company had also handled online ticket sales for the ICC World Cup.

Meanwhile, the Mumbai Cricket Association, which has organised the match, said it would only look into the problem on Tuesday. MCA Officials have been busy organising the naming of a suburban stadium after Tendulkar. “We will take a call tomorrow. All of us were busy with this event,” said MCA vice president Uday Deshpande.

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