It took game five for the 2023 World Cup to finally find its voice as fans thronged the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday to watch the hosts kick off its campaign.
Despite the heat and sweltering humidity, the crowd started building up as early as noon. Though there were some empty seats when the match got underway, slowly, the stadium filled up, with the official attendance being 32,531 out of a capacity of 37,000 (approx), about 87% attendance.
Interestingly, a few fans on social media shared that they were able to buy tickets for the match on Sunday morning from the official ticketing partner despite it being officially sold out weeks ago.
It is learnt that some tickets, which are blocked for sponsors, other state associations or former players/office-bearers, can get released back into the general pool if it fails to find takers, though the numbers are generally minimal.
The build-up to the 2023 edition has been subdued with little buzz. The first four games had received only lukewarm response from the fans at the grounds, with the issues surrounding the announcement of scheduling and the ticket sales not helping things. While it is understandable that stadiums will not fill out for games not featuring India, the last-minute nature of the whole thing has made it difficult for even neutral or passionate cricket lovers to enjoy the spectacle of the World Cup.
The 50-over cricket World Cup, held once every four years, has always been the sport’s crown jewel on the calendar since its inception in 1975. Despite the one-day format fighting for relevance, caught between the history and tradition of Test cricket on one side and the action-packed three-hour T20 version, the quadrennial event is where some of cricket’s fondest memories have been made and helped the game grow, especially in India.
With India’s campaign on the books, there is hope it will drive more interest in the tournament, with more fans thronging the stadiums.