Pakistani visitors have a lot to cheer for

Pakistani fans watching the India-Pakistan Test match in Bangalore on Thursday. — K. Bhagya Prakash

Pakistani fans watching the India-Pakistan Test match in Bangalore on Thursday. — K. Bhagya Prakash  

BANGALORE SEEMS to be a preferred destination for visitors from Pakistan. A big contingent of 600 visitors arrived here to witness the final test in the current series and Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) is sparing no efforts to make the visitors feel at home.

Most of the visitors spent the whole morning on Tuesday shopping around in the city's popular markets. Strolling through the new malls and on Mahatma Gandhi Road, Brigade Road, and Commercial Street, the visitors had a whale of a time picking up curios and mementos. Only a small number watched the match on the first day, but a full house is expected from the second day onwards. With skipper, Inzamam-ul-Haq, in full flow along with his deputy, Younis Khan, the Pakistani visitors will have lots to cheer and root for on the second day.

The visitors have been given a prime location to watch the game. A new stand below the National Cricket Academy has been set apart for the group. Though it is not directly in line with the stumps, a KSCA official said, "The group is ideally placed to give run out decisions."

The State Cricket Association has made arrangements to provide halal meat for the visitors. The package for the visitors includes apart from the ticket, all refreshments during the breaks.

The KSCA, to its credit, has come up with something new for every international match hosted here. The newly installed big screen proved to be a popular addition and spectators at the stadium thoroughly enjoyed the replays.

The big screen has been installed at a cost of Rs. 2 crores and has been commissioned by Stella Vista, a South Africa-based company. Representatives of the company have been deputed to operate the equipment for this match and also to train local staff for forthcoming matches. The order was placed after a global tender was floated and officials of the KSCA went to Johannesburg to see the screen at that ground. The KSCA proudly claims that though it is the cheapest of its kind, it features the latest technology.

By the next international fixture here, KSCA will have a new five-storeyed stand at the northern end of the stadium. With the Land Army and the State Bank of Mysore moving out, plans have been finalised to demolish the existing stand near the northern sightscreen. The new stand will feature a basement car park, with a parking facility of 300 cars.

Another big refurbishment will be a completely new umpires' room. The existing room for the umpires officiating at the match has no direct view of the ground.

The new room will be close to the clubhouse sightscreen, which is presently being used to store equipment for the ground. It is also being used by the ground staff as a resting place.

By D. Ravi Shankar

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