Cuttack, May 14: This IPL season, the city cheered loud for one last time tonight. However, the turnout for the clash between Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians was the lowest among the three matches played here.
The stands looked empty when the game started at around 8pm, but bulk of the seats was occupied as the match progressed.
Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) officials said that the turnout was over 32,000 by the end of the last IPL match here tonight. However, they refused to comment on the drop in the turnout in comparison to the previous two matches.
In the second of the three matches played here, nearly 37,000 spectators had thronged the Barabati Stadium to witness the clash between Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders on May 11, over 40,000 were there for the tie between Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab on May 7.
Though the crowd count was low tonight, spectacular fireworks and heart-throbbing music were enough to elicit loud cheers in the stadium.
But those who turned up for the show braved the oddities of nature to enter the stadium. Long before the first of ball of the last encounter was bowled, spectators from different parts of the state had queued up outside the entry gates despite the intense heat and humid conditions.
“In the last match I could not enter the stadium before start of play. So, I decided to line up early for tonight’s match,” said Sanjay Mohanty, who had come all the way from Bhubaneswar.
Tonight’s match between Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians was scheduled to be played at Eden Gardens in Calcutta and was shifted to Cuttack owing to security concerns ahead of the May 16 counting of votes.
|Braving the intense heat and humidity, spectators queue up to enter Barabati Stadium. Picture by Badrika Nath Das
The OCA, however, is eager to make the most of the opportunity that has come its way. The association is eyeing to grab more international T20 and ODI matches by proving its mettle in hosting the last IPL match at a very short notice.
The OCA had in the past successfully hosted a number of matches of the ICC Women’s World Cup and played host for Pakistan team in February last year. The entire team and officials of Pakistan women’s team were accommodated at OCA club inside Barabati sports complex.
“We are happy that all the three matches of IPL were smoothly organised at Barabati Stadium and we are grateful to the spectators who had showed great support for all the teams that played here,” said OCA secretary Ashirbad Behera.
Behera further said that the state association was hopeful in getting a lot of ODI matches, while so far it has received positive response from BCCI in according the test venue.
Once Barabati regains the Test status, it will be one of the best venues as there have been positive efforts to prepare a sporting wicket here, Behera added.The team management of Kings XI Punjab, Kolkata Kinght Riders, Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings also lauded the efforts of OCA in preparing a sporting wicket and also appreciated the hospitality.
A three-tier security arrangement made by commissionerate police ensured that all the matches were conducted without any untoward incident.Police commissioner R.P. Sharma, along with other senior officials, supervised the security arrangements at Barabati Stadium before the start of every match here.
Around 36 platoons of police force was also deployed in and around Barabati Stadium, while nearly 300 private security personnel were also engaged for ensuring that only valid ticket holders entered the stadium for the match.