Encouraging response to first ODI

But then their delight was not without reason either. Crowd response was significantly poor for the one-day series against England and the just-concluded Test matches against the West Indies, leading to debates over various issues ranging from the overkill of cricket to official apathy to the paying public.

But come Tuesday, the worries will get a temporary rest as a full house will be attending the first one-dayer between India and the West Indies here. “It’s a sell-out as we have only a few tickets left when the counters closed for the day. And we expect the remaining tickets to be sold tomorrow,” an OCA official said.

“Barabati can house 45,000 spectators, and we have kept the minimum price to Rs 200, and there is further concession for students. We have also reduced the corporate box rates to Rs 8,000. The response to this match so far has been very encouraging, and it will be good to have a packed house for this match,” he said.

However, the massive crowd response to the match has only added to the responsibility of the local organisers. Negligence of spectators’ needs have been a common feature in Indian stadiums where long queues to enter the venues and sub-standard and insufficient in-stadia facilities stymie their enthusiasm.

For once, the officials presented a rather humane face when asked about the arrangements made to tackle the expected rush on the match day. The familiar, smug “everything is in order” reply was conspicuous by its absence.

“We are quite aware of the needs of the public, and we have tried our best to address them. We have increased the number of wash rooms, seats have been refurbished, and arrangements have been made for sufficient supply of food and water in the galleries, especially for the students. We have also made arrangements at the gates to get the public in as quickly as possible, so that there’s no unnecessary crowding at the entrances,” he said.

“Certain items like water bottles and food packets still can’t be taken inside the venue, but we have left no stone unturned to ensure that spectators don’t suffer, setting up enough stalls easily accessible to them,” he added.

That should offer some solace to the fans, who till now had to brave innumerable hardships to enter the stadium to watch their favourite players in action. Perhaps, the recent backlash from the fans is finally having an effect on the administrators.

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