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IPL gets Hyderabad blues as crowds stay away

cricket Updated: Apr 23, 2008 01:44 IST
Arjun Sen
Arjun Sen
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

From the excitement at Kolkata to the relative emptiness in Hyderabad.

The IPL might be four days old, but these four days, it seems, has been enough to show both the good and the not-so good sides of this venture.

Tuesday was the 'gala opening' of Hyderabad's home base for the IPL, the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium. It was, if the ads were to be believed, going to be a 'glitzy, glamorous event' replete with the now-routine doses of dancing girls and signing stars.

All in all, it was just the kind of opening an IPL venue ought to have - except that there was just one problem — there was hardly anyone watching.

Obviously not enamoured by what was on offer, Hyderabadis decided to give the much-hyped, and much-publicised event a skip.

And though the situation was marginally better when the cricket started, there were no more than a few heads dotting the bright yellow seats in the West Stand, while just a fewer more took their seats in the pale blue East.

What made this low turnout even more surprising was the fact that this was Hyderabad's first home game in the IPL. V.V.S. Laxman's side gave a rather good account of themselves in that humdinger at the Eden, almost pulling it off, and the organisers had been banking on their fans to turn up in numbers.

That, however, was not quite how it turned out. The attraction of watching the likes of Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds and Shahid Afridi in action was obviously not reason enough for Hyderabadis to shell out their money, and if that was the case for the first match, one presumes it could only get worse in the next few weeks.

So, why did Hyderabad stay away from the game? Well, the biggest reason, according to the locals, was the capacity of the ground. "It was always going to be a challenge to fill the stadium completely," a local said. "It is very unlikely that 40,000 people will come to watch a match, and that too on a weekday."

Such a low turnout would undoubtedly have served as a reality check for the IPL organisers.

Though it is definitely too premature to take a call on whether all the other matches in Hyderabad will meet a similar fate at the box office, Tuesday's turnout, Lalit Modi & Co would dearly hope, was an aberration.

Maybe it's too early for the administrators to cringe in their seats just yet, but Tuesday was undoubtedly not the perfect start they would have wanted.

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