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KKR looking for a positive start

It's being billed as the 'World Cup of club T20". But if ticket sales are any indication on the eve of the Champions League T20 qualifiers, the organisers should feel happy even if 25 per cent of the seats are taken up.

india Updated: Sep 18, 2011 23:45 IST
Debjeet Kundu
Kolkata-Knight-Riders-player-Yusuf-Pathan-bats-during-net-practice-for-Champions-League-T20-in-Hyderabad
Kolkata-Knight-Riders-player-Yusuf-Pathan-bats-during-net-practice-for-Champions-League-T20-in-Hyderabad

It's being billed as the 'World Cup of club T20". But if ticket sales are any indication on the eve of the Champions League T20 qualifiers, the organisers should feel happy even if 25 per cent of the seats are taken up.

The cameras are in place, and even the on-field DJ's kiosk is ready, belting out the latest numbers from Shah Rukh Khan's next blockbuster as if to test the audio system. It does remind you of the annual gala of popcorn cricket called IPL that the country has been gobbling up for the last four years. If the idea was to cash in on the T20 mania, at least the initial phase of this tournament doesn't seem to make everyone happy.

"There is practically no interest, at least nothing in comparison to the IPL," said a Hyderabad Cricket Association official. "We are expecting a crowd of 10-12,000. But at least 5,000 of them will be holding complimentary tickets."

While the absence of Hyderabad's own team, Deccan Chargers, is a factor for the lukewarm response, unfamiliar teams in the qualifying rounds is another.

As if things weren't bad enough, there is a transport strike on Monday over the Telangana issue. So the first match between Sri Lanka's Ruhuna Elevens and Trinidad & Tobago is sure to see more security men around the ground than fans.

For a regrouped Kolkata Knight Riders though, the crowd response is the last thing on their minds. They are looking to hit the jackpot they missed out in the IPL, even if that means getting Manoj Tiwary to pad up within hours of his landing from England. Up against the Auckland Aces, the Jacques Kallis-led team is the overwhelming favourites.

And possibly Hyderabad's only hope to pull in some crowd in the evening after the bandh supporters retire for the day.