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Hill town witnesses rush of cricket crazy fans

india Updated: Apr 16, 2010 19:44 IST
Gaurav Bisht

Dharamsala witnessed a mad rush of cricket lovers on Friday who thronged the town's scenic cricket stadium playing host to its first mega cricket event, the Indian Premier League (IPL) match between the Deccan Chargers and the Kings XI Punjab.

The roads connecting the town buzzed with traffic as people from various parts of the state made a beeline to the otherwise sleepy hill town. The rush increased by evening as celebrities and VVIP made their way into the town from the Kangra airport.

The situation at the Kangra airport was chaotic as media and fans waited at the exit gate to have a glimpse of the celebrities.

People waited eagerly at the airport to see Lalit Modi - the man in thick of the IPL controversy. The security personnel had a tough time helping Modi into his car as the media threw a volley of questions at him.

"We have a new venue for the IPL matches, I hope everyone will enjoy the cricket," said Modi.

Heavy rush at the airport led to security breach inside at the airport as BJP workers, who had come to the airport to greet Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and other cabinet ministers, made their way into the VIP area. Dhumal was at the airport to receive senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley.

Journalists, particularly photographers, raised slogans against the police even as many local journalists managed to slip inside the main area to click pictures of Bollywood star Preity Zinta who arrived at the airport along with her mother Neel Prabha. Zinta did not speak to the media and drove away to Asia Health Resorts.

The chaos also added to the woes of security men who were at the airport to receive the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Though the match between the Chargers and the Kings XI will begin at 8 pm the cricket lovers took their seats almost three hours in advance.

The enthusiasm was more amongst the school and college students who had brought tickets in advance. Those who could not get tickets were seen at the stadium looking to purchase some at the last moment.

"I have been waiting for long to have a glimpse of the cricketers whom I watch on television screens. To see them playing is a dream come true for me," said Arsh Awasthi student of Sacred Heart School Sidhbari.

So much was the craze amongst the locals that majority of the shopkeepers closed their shops to watch the match.

As the last minutes efforts to prune the place were completed Thursday night, Dharamsala wore a festive look as lights bathed the town and the streets buzzed with activity.

More than 1,400 policemen are guarding the roads leading to the venue and the stadium was placed under heavy security.