The last time the Ferozeshah Kotla hosted a World Cup match involving India, against Sri Lanka in 1996, mounted police beat back surging fans trying to enter. Many genuine ticket-holders went away nursing bruises.
Despite the police lathi-charge on ticket-seekers in Bangalore and Nagpur, it has been a breeze for fans here. Unlike the other two centres, the Delhi game involved the hosts versus the unfancied Netherlands, and it was a weekday. Still, the 42,000-capacity stadium was almost full.
Unlike in the past, when the fans used to be virtually herded in, things were better organised.
Many made unsuccessful attempts to buy tickets but Delhi’s knack of cornering free passes shone through. “Things have improved thanks to the IPL,” said Sunil, an employee with an official ICC partner. He had one complaint: The corporate box he was seated in had more people than seats. Had someone been innovative?
Two of Virender Sehwag’s childhood friends from, Deepak Ruhil and Pankaj Vashisht, purchased tickets in "black" but at a discount before the game began. Nandan Singh, a marble contractor from Rajasthan, asked his workers to stand in the queue for his ticket. "They got the ticket in 30 minutes," he said, before jumping with the rest of the crowd to cheer a straight six by Sehwag.
Some staff members of Dutch airline, KLM, landed in the morning and came to watch the game for the first time, thanks to passes from a Dutch team official. "This is my introduction to the game,” said one member. “All we know is that the Indians are winning.”