Mumbai: A renovated and refurbished Wankhede Stadium attracted a big crowd on a working day for the first ODI between India and Australia on Friday — the first match after the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) completed the first phase of the work.
It was a good crowd — around 20,000 by a rough estimate — but far short of the full house of 33,000, considering the Wankhede Stadium was hosting a one-dayer after three years.
The MCA had started renovation and refurbishing of the stadium in a phased manner after some fans had criticised the facilities at the stadiums in India. On Tuesday, the MCA had through a social media post announced the completion of the first phase of the renovation of the stadium that was rebuilt ahead of the 2011 World Cup and hosted the final.
It was also the first One-Day International in the stadium since January 2020 — the same two sides had played that match with Australia winning by 10 wickets on January 14.
The match has attracted several celebrities including superstar Rajnikanth, Maharashtra governor Ramesh Bais, and Bollywood star Ajay Devgn.
The sale of tickets for Friday’s encounter was slow and was going on till the start of the match at the adjacent Mumbai Hockey Hockey (MHA) Mahindra Stadium.
“Usually, the tickets are sold mostly online and those that are sold at the booking window at the MHA, are done within an hour or so on the first day. This time the going has been slow and is still available,” an MHA staff said.
Besides it being a working day, another reason for the smaller number could be the sunny and hot conditions and the fact that India were fielding.
The tickets are also not that cheap, priced at Rs 2000 and Rs 2500.
Though the MCA claimed to have refurbished the stadium, some fans put out photos of dirty chairs in the stands, once again highlighting the not so spectator-friendly cricket stadia in the country.
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