Some cricket, but mostly not cricket at Kotla

NEW DELHI, JAN. 31. Shouts of ``England Zindabad!'' and ``Down with Delhi Police!'' rent the air here today as hundreds of genuine ticket-holders were denied entry into the Ferozeshah Kotla cricket ground where the fifth one-day match between India and England was played. Instead, overbearing policemen used the day to entertain themselves and their guests at the cost of cricket enthusiasts who had come from far and near.

Some policemen openly sought bribes from eager ticket-holders while others went around chasing them with batons. ``I came from Patna by Shramjeevi Express yesterday and bought a ticket in black for Rs. 800. Then I paid Rs 50 to a cop at Gate No. 14. But that still did not get me entry as another cop shooed me away,'' rued Aftab Alam.

Hours after the match started, many cricket-lovers hung around the ground hoping they would be let in after lunch. ``Police say there is no place. Probably some people would leave during lunch and we may get a chance to see Indian batting,'' said a rather optimistic Nikhil with a ticket in hand.

Noor Alam, a student of North-Eastern Hill University in Meghalaya, had come with The Tricolour painted on his face. But that did not make him any more eligible for entry and he had to sit outside with his ticket.

The effort put into getting hold of a ticket, reaching the venue and queuing up for entry began telling on ticket-holders as the day progressed. For many, it was not only a loss of time but also a day's earnings. ``I am a daily wager earning Rs. 60 a day. Not only have I lost the ticket money but also a day's salary,'' rued Uday Tomar.

Sonu from Faridabad was angry that the police were ``treating cricket-lovers like animals'': ``We were chased away when we went to the gate to demand entry.''

A foreigner who had bought a Rs. 250 ticket for Rs 4,000 was turned away from Gate No. 13. Similar was the fake of some complimentary ticket holders.

Inspector Nafe Singh Joon, who led one lathi-charge at Gate No. 14, however blamed the Delhi District Cricket Association for the chaos. ``Why did they issue so many tickets when there were no seats?''

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