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Cuttack fans can’t wait for India-Sri Lanka T20 action to start at Barabati Stadium

Frequent India-Sri Lanka clashes may have raised concerns of staleness, but the appetite of Barabati fans remains as good as ever ahead of the first T20 in Cuttack on Wednesday.

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Dec 19, 2017 13:20 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Cuttack
India vs Sri Lanka,Virat Kohli,T20s
The three-T20 series between India-Sri Lanka is likely to draw huge crowds. The first T20 will be played at Cuttack’s Barabati Stadium on Wednesday.(HT Photo )

A day before India and Sri Lanka put bat to ball again, Virat Kohli was asked how much exactly was too much.

The India captain’s long answer took in the difference in the points of view of those playing for India and those who watch them but he had ended on a note of caution. (INDIA vs SRI LANKA FULL COVERAGE)

“This analysis (of how interesting it is playing the same team this soon) has to be done because you don’t want the fans going away from the game,” Kohli had said in Kolkata last month, before the current series began with the first Test.

Kohli is settling into a new partnership far away from Cuttack, but had he got here on Monday with the India and Sri Lanka teams on a chartered flight, he would have realised the fans are going nowhere.

(Read | Rohit Sharma climbs to fifth in ICC ODI rankings, Virat Kohli leads charts)

Because when it comes to the shorter versions of cricket, nothing seems too much in India. Perhaps nothing is out of context either, and that is why a rectangular Kolkata Knight Riders banner in the staircase looked incongruous to none of the Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) officials who used it.

FULL HOUSE

This may be the 10th T20 International in India this year, and the seventh since October 7, but come Wednesday the Barabati Stadium will be a heaving, throbbing sold-out cauldron of partisan support.

(Read | Can’t see India-Pakistan playing each other in near future: Shahryar Khan)

Such was the demand for tickets – priced between Rs 200 and Rs 8000 – that after they ran out on Sunday, the police had to be called in. The local administration now is planning to set up giant screens in different parts of the city.

“The seating capacity is around 42,000 of which around 32,000 tickets were sold to the public. Over 9000 were sold online last month and nearly 11,000 were then bought by OCA affiliates. The rest were sold at the weekend,” said Asirbad Behera, after a recce of the ground.

(Read | Ajinkya Rahane’s form not a concern ahead of South Africa tour: Sourav Ganguly)

Behera was the OCA general secretary before the Lodha Committee’s recommendations kicked in. Officially, therefore, his writ does not run the place but as was evident on Monday afternoon, his advice is still sought.

CROWD TROUBLE

During the only other T20 International here, on October 5, 2015, things had got too partisan for comfort. The crowd had forced two stoppages when India, dismissed for 92, lost to South Africa by six wickets. On Wednesday, the stadium will be under CCTV surveillance, according to local media reports that quoted a senior police officer.

ODIs bypassed this venue in 2016 -- there has been no Test here since 1995 -- and last month, Cuttack missed out on a T20 against New Zealand because of a local festival.

So, though this would be the second international here in 2017 after the ODI against England in January where Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni got big hundreds during a run feast, there is no question of fan fatigue. Yet.

First Published: Dec 18, 2017 22:10 IST