India-Pakistan match kicks off in front of empty stands

India-Pakistan match kicks off in front of empty stands

India-Pakistan match kicks off in front of empty stands

Normally regarded as the mother of all battles in international cricket, the India-Pakistan Asia Cup match, for a change, began in front of a near empty Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium here today.

"I don't see the usual excitement here. I was expecting 'Chacha' (Chaudhry Abdul Jalil) to be here but heard that he's only coming here during the World Twenty20," said ardent Indian fan Sudhir Gautam.

According to the Bangladesh Cricket Board, tickets were all sold out but the 25,200 stadium, however, gave a different picture with many empty seats in the lower tier.

Head of BCB security officer Major Mohammad Hussain Imam said: "More than double the crowd are outside the stadium and are trying to get inside. Sunday being a working day, we expect the match to be a full house towards the evening."

He added that they were following high security measures as per the ICC regulations.

Outside the stadium it was a different scene with huge crowd, most of them Pakistani fans, gathering near the stadium gate and adding to the already chaotic traffic.

Traffic that moves at a snail's pace in the capital virtually choked.

"Don't understand where all the crowd is gone? It's like a fair outside, many are still scurrying for tickets, the traffic is in a terrible mess today. It took more than two hours to travel 10 kms," a Bangladeshi journalist said.

On the seats in the lower tier lying vacant, a BCB official said: "These are premier seats purchased by big corporate houses in advance. They gift the tickets to their clients. It will fill in as the match progresses."

The two arch-rivals had met the last time in the ICC Champions Trophy, when Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men won a rain-affected match.