It is one of the most anticipated cricket events in India — Sachin’s Tendulkar’s 200th Test match marking his retirement from international cricket. Yet only 5,000 of the 30,000 tickets at Wankhede Stadium will be made available to the public for the Test match which begins on November 14.
Around 17,000 tickets will be distributed to cricket clubs affiliated to the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), which is hosting the match. Of the remaining, as many as 8,000 tickets will be given “complimentary” to sponsors and government bodies, including the municipality and the police.
Cricket fans are disappointed. “Do we need to have contacts to get tickets? 5,000 tickets for the public are much too low for a match like this,” said Chandrakant Rajeshirke, who is keen to watch the match.
“Cricket clubs will sell tickets to their own members. We have no way of contacting them for tickets,” said Amod Sathe, another avid cricket fan.
Meanwhile, hectic lobbying is on for complimentary tickets. The police and the municipality have been flooded with phone calls. “I have been getting hundreds of calls every day. People are even dropping in to see me for tickets. I can’t help them and it is difficult to refuse them outright,” said Mayor Sunil Prabhu, who has received an invitation from the MCA to attend the match.
Police officers too are facing a similar problem. “People feel that the police can help procure tickets instantly. We have been telling them they should ask the MCA,” said Krishna Prakash, Additional Commissioner of Police (South Region).
Even leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), whose chief Sharad Pawar is currently at the helm of the MCA, are at a loss. “I have been telling people that the MCA does not belong to our party and providing tickets to them is not our job,” said NCP corporator Dhananjay Pisal.
However, the MCA says this has been the practice all along. Cricket clubs have always been given the lion’s share of tickets to sell. And distributing complimentary tickets is also an old tradition. “We have to give complimentary tickets to the agencies that help us in our functioning,” said Ravi Sawant, vice-president.