Not many IPL games played in aamchi Mumbai in the inaugural edition saw empty seats. That didn’t necessarily mean the games were sold out, courtesy complementary tickets.
After a disastrous start to their campaign, the ticket sales didn’t really pick up for the Mumbai Indians’ home games till the last couple of games when they had an outside chance of making it to the semis.
Come 2010, the scenario has changed. Visit the ticket counters at the Brabourne Stadium on the eve of the Mumbai Indians’ clash against Royal Challengers Bangalore, and one is greeted with printouts reading, “Rs 500 tickets sold out for all seven matches.” Even tickets of Rs 1,000 denomination have been sold out for the RCB match and Monday’s tie against the Kolkata Knight Riders.
A representative at the booking counter here informs the demand has suddenly skyrocketed after Mumbai’s victory over the Delhi Daredevils on Wednesday. This underlines the fact that a team’s on-field performance is the bottom-line for its fan-following.
And, when you have your home team, led by the most celebrated cricketer in the world, topping the IPL charts for the first time in three years, as a fan, you will obviously try and grab a blue seat — representing the colour of the team — in the Brabourne stands.
However, going into their third game of IPL-III, Sachin Tendulkar and Co would be wary of Anil Kumble’s Bangaloreans on two counts. The RCB, like MI, have started their campaign on a good note. And two years ago, the RCB had registered a comprehensive victory against the Mumbai Indians in Mumbai.
Naturally, when two teams least hampered by injuries and positioned first and second on the points table meet on Saturday, the clash acquires an altogether different meaning.
There’ll be plenty more at stake for two more individuals. Zaheer Khan, the MI bowling spearhead was an RCB recruit in the inaugural edition before he was ‘transferred’ to his home team last year. Similarly, Robin Uthappa turned out for MI before returning to his ‘roots’ in the second edition.
Uthappa has already made his presence felt this year, scoring the second-fastest fifty in IPL earlier in the week. Zaheer would be hoping to make his mark come Saturday evening.