The Telegraph
Saturday , January 5 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Packed Kotla is expected

New Delhi: When the teams involved are India and Pakistan, it doesn’t matter if the match is inconsequential.

The Misbah-ul Haqs, by virtue of a 2-0 lead, have already won the three-match ODI series. But India, their meek surrenders notwithstanding, have not lost the support of the fans yet. At least, the excitement surrounding the Kotla one-dayer, to played on Sunday, says so.

Logic says that with the series decided, there’s little to play for, forget paying to watch such a match. But Delhi is in a mood to defy logic. The Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) officials claimed on Friday that they have been flooded with requests for tickets despite putting up a house-full board at least three days ago.

“If the sale of tickets is any indication, then not a seat would remain vacant on Sunday,” said a DDCA official. Around 20,000 tickets were put on sale in the 43,000-capacity stadium. The rest were given to member clubs and as complimentary passes.

On Friday evening, the teams arrived in the capital amidst tight security. Though the flight was delayed by around 40 minutes, some cricket fans still waited outside the Indira Gandhi Airport, and at the team hotel as well, to greet the teams. But the security personnel ensured that the fans didn’t get to see their stars from close, thereby disappointing quite a few.

Thus, the teams made a rather quiet entry into the hotel. They quickly moved in through the side entrance and straightaway went to their rooms. They, however, are scheduled to practice on Saturday.

Several former players from the other side of the border are expected to attend the concluding match of the series. The local officials claimed that former stars like Hanif Mohammed, Mushtaq Mohammed, Sadiq Mohammed, Wazir Ali, Inthikab Alam and Wasim Bari would be present at the ground on the match day. They will watch the game from the lower tier of the players’ pavilion.

A special area in the lower stands has been earmarked for the 1100-odd Pakistani fans, who are specially coming to capital to watch the neighbours clash on the cricket field. “The Pak Board requested to make special sitting arrangements for their fans. There are around 2500 seats in that particular area. All Pak fans have been given seats there,” a DDCA official informed.

The match will be played on a fresh wicket at Kotla. It has not been used for any domestic match this season. Chief curator Venkat Sundaram, a former Ranji player, is confident that teams would be able to score at least 250 to 300 runs on this wicket. “However, a lot will depend on the conditions,” Sundaram said. “If the sun does not come out, then the seamers would get some advantage. Given the nature of Delhi weather, it could be a gloomy day.”

Meanwhile, efforts are on to flatten the pitch as much as possible to make it more batsmen friendly. It has also not been watered for the past couple of days.