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Cricket fever grips Hyderabad

cricket Updated: Oct 04, 2007 19:08 IST

IANS
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Cricket fever has gripped the city of Charminar as the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium at Uppal is all set to host the third One-Day International (ODI) between India and Australia on Friday.

The Indian team had a net session on Thursday morning while the Australians practiced in the evening.

Hundreds of diehard fans were seen flocking to the stadium to catch a glimpse of their favourite stars during the Indian nets. However, many had to return disappointed as the security personnel kept them at bay.

The fans are already feeling let down by the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) which sold only 15,000 tickets and distributed 34,000 complimentary passes among VIPs, HCA office-bearers, IAS and IPS officials and sponsors.

Some people, with clout in political circles, were seen running around the stadium and pleading with HCA officials for complimentaries.

A number of cricket fans alleged that HCA officials were black-marketing the tickets though HCA president and state minister for labour G Vinod has denied the allegations.

Massive security arrangements have been made by the Hyberabad Police for the match in view of the recent bomb blasts in the city and continuing terror alert. Twin blasts at a park and a famous eatery in Hyderabad on August 25 had claimed 44 lives while the blast at the historic Mecca Masjid on May 18 had killed nine people.

Dozens of workers were busy giving final touches to the stadium, geared up to host its second ODI. In the first match played in Hyderabad in 2005, South Africa had defeated India.

The seating capacity of the stadium, then 30,000, has been raised to 55,000.

The HCA authorities were cheered by the meteorological department's forecast of clear weather on Friday. Hyderabad weather office officials said thunderclouds were likely on Thursday evening but on Friday the skies would remain clear.

The HCA officials were confident of tackling a situation in the event of rains. They claim that the stadium has a good drainage system, modelled on the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg with the capacity to clear rainwater in less than 30 minutes.

The wicket is likely to prove a feast for batsmen. Curator Gopal said the wicket would help the batsmen though initially there is likely to be some moisture.