Mohali 'fort' scares away fans

As many as 315 Pakistani fans have crossed the Attari border to Amritsar since Monday.
With less than a day left for the clash, officials said they aren’t hoping any astronomical rise in the number of fans crossing the border now.

Unless there are scores of cricket fans from Pakistan who have preferred the aerial route to New Delhi from Islamabad, the loyalty factor in the audience stands will be heavily tilted towards Dhoni’s Men in Blue.

Amritsar Deputy Commissioner K S Pannu said the number of visitors from across the border are less than expected. He said the possession of a valid match ticket was a must for anyone to apply for visa to India, which was hard to get. The scarcity of tickets has been one big dampener for Pakistani fans, many of whom may have chosen to stay back on home turf to enjoy the telecast live on television.

The galaxy of VVIPs descending at the venue, which promises only harassment and more delays for fans and locals, may have also dissuaded fans, said officials. But then there will be ample support on ground from hundreds of Pakistani delegates and family members of team Pakistan on Wednesday.

The peace brigades too have prepared enough joint Indo-Pakistan flags and symbols to cheer players of both teams. There were reports initially of 5,000 visas likely to be issued, but it’s now unlikely that those many visitors reach the stadium. The issue of visas this time has been dealt with more seriously owing to security concerns, given that a few dozens of Pakistani fans went missing last time when the two teams clashed in Mohali.

The Pakistan Cricket Board, which acknowledges the scarcity of tickets as a big dampener, has announced holding a special screening of the semifinal at the Gaddafi stadium on Wednesday under floodlights.

A board official said, “We have made this arrangement keeping in mind the immense interest of the people and it will be a great experience and opportunity for the people to support their team in a stadium.”

It’s not just Pakistani fans settling without a ticket; Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit and Mohali MLA Balbir Sidhu too were unsuccessful in getting ticket, at least till the filing of this report.

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