The electrifying atmosphere that makes a cricket match between India and Pakistan a pulsating spectacle was absent during their Asia Cup Super 4 match in Colombo on September 10.
The spectators once again stayed away from one of the most storied cricketing rivalries despite it being a weekend, just as it was the case during the Indo-Pak league match at Pallekele.
The organisers were expecting to see a good turnout as Colombo has a good representation of Indians and Pakistanis.
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In fact, back in 2012, during the World T20 game between the same teams, the Premadasa Stadium was jam-packed. As it has been in Mirpur, Melbourne, Adelaide, Dubai, Birmingham, London or Manchester throughout the better part of the last decade.
The local administrators were understandably disappointed despite them not having any financial stake in the match, as Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is the official host.
“With the rain staying away, we were expecting a good turnout. But tickets are still available offline and online. In fact, the ticket rate too has been slashed but we are yet to see a big rush. Hopefully, it will pick up,” said an SLC official.
Sri Lanka Cricket has also tweeted about the price reduction of tickets for all the Super 4 matches, including the one between India and Pakistan.
The price of C and D Upper Block tickets at the Premadasa Stadium has been slashed to LKR 1000 while the rate for C and D Lower Block tickets is now fixed at LKR 500.
However, the price reduction is applicable only to the Super 4 matches as the prices will be restored for the final scheduled on September 17.
So, what could have been the reason behind the crowd staying away from this much-anticipated match?
“Perhaps, it was because of the rain prediction that people don’t want to take a chance, or may be the local interest is not there,” the SLC official said.
However, the Super 4 match between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh on Saturday too saw several empty spaces in the stands.
But a PCB official said the selection of the venue itself was far from ideal.
“It is tough to organise cricket matches in Sri Lanka at this time of the year as it rains there more often than not. But then, a decision has been made and now we have to go ahead,” the official told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
He said the speculation over a possible venue shift also might have affected the sale of tickets.
“Then there were all those talks about shifting the venue [from Colombo to Hambantota] of Super 4 matches and the final. Obviously, people will be apprehensive to come forward and buy tickets,” he added.