Asia Cup 2023: India vs Pakistan | Near-empty stands, lack of buzz raise eyebrows

India and Pakistan face each other in their Asia Cup 2023 Group A match at the Pallekele Stadium in Sri Lanka

September 02, 2023 04:37 pm | Updated 06:00 pm IST - Pallekele (Sri Lanka)

India’s captain Rohit Sharma walks back to the pavilion after his dismissal during the Asia Cup 2023 one-day international (ODI) cricket match between India and Pakistan at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy on September 2, 2023.

India’s captain Rohit Sharma walks back to the pavilion after his dismissal during the Asia Cup 2023 one-day international (ODI) cricket match between India and Pakistan at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy on September 2, 2023. | Photo Credit: AFP

A cricket match involving India and Pakistan is not just about top-quality cricket, but it is also about roaring fans giving the stadium the atmosphere of a Roman colosseum.

But the Pallekele Stadium was cocooned in a rather serene ambience on September 2, as India and Pakistan faced each other in their Asia Cup 2023 Group A match.

There were fans — the flag-waving, cheering, applauding kind. But not in numbers that often electrify the venue, despite India batting first.

Also Read | Asia Cup 2023: India vs Pakistan | Track match updates here

There were several empty spaces in the stands and on the grass banks here, something one will not see during an Indo-Pak cricket clash.

"The tickets are not fully sold, as you can see. In fact, the sale of tickets was on even yesterday evening at Kandy and Colombo. There were not many takers for the top-end tickets in the Grand Stand,” an SLC official told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

The lowest denomination of tickets was $20 (Approximately LKR 6400) in the beginning but it was later slashed to LKR 1500, and LKR 2560 if purchased for both the India matches involving Pakistan and Nepal.

But still there was no real rush for the tickets, and some fans were quite chuffed about it.

"Tickets were readily available. In fact, I got the ticket yesterday in Colombo. We thought tickets will not be available because it is an India vs Pakistan match. But we are not complaining. After all, we can watch an India vs Pakistan match without the frenzy that we often have to go through in India," said Varun Ghosh, who runs his business in Colombo.

The officials too have been left a trifle disappointed

"It is a bit surprising. I can understand that people may find the Grand Stand tickets costly (around LKR 64,000) but the Embankment tickets are priced at a good deal for them. It is the weekend too. It could also be because of the prediction for the rain during the match," the official said.

While the officials were left a bit disappointed, the less than anticipated fan rush has dismayed the hotel owners and tour operators. The rooms were available in all hotels and there was no rush for booking unlike India's World Cup game in Ahmedabad where hotel tariff has shot through the roof.

“We were getting ready for some big rush by the fans. We have seen the fans’ response to the India vs Pakistan match. But we still have rooms left in our property, and it is the case with many other places too,” said the owner of a prominent chain of hotels in Pallekele.

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