Counters open for sea of fans

Going by cheers and claps outside Ranchi's International Cricket Stadium, it seemed like Mahi's boys had won the match nine days ahead of schedule.

Ten ticket counters opened sharp at 9am on Thursday, sending 15,000 patiently waiting cricket buffs into whoops of joy. From youngsters to the elderly and even the physically challenged, everyone had lined up for tickets to Ranchi's first international match ' the India-England ODI on January 19 ' hours in advance.

Many had been standing in queue since 2am.

But what took everyone by surprise was the presence of two members of Jharkhand's First Family of Cricket. Yes, Mamta Singh Dhoni and her daughter Avika were standing before one of the two ladies-only counters. Mamta happens to be Mahi's bhabhi.

"Mamma, chachu yahin khelenge? (Mamma, will uncle play here?)," chirped four-year-old Avika, causing others, including mediapersons to crowd around the mother-daughter pair.

When asked why members of the hi-profile Dhoni family needed to stand in a queue for tickets in Ranchi, Mamta, head covered with a dupatta, said: "I'm a diehard cricket fan. We tried contacting Jharkhand State Cricket Association officials but they stopped taking our calls. So we're buying our own tickets."

Mamta, standing in the serpentine queue since 8am, managed to buy two tickets costing Rs 1,500 each around noon.

Like her, thousands stood in line between 9am and 2pm for tickets from 10 counters. On Day One, over 11,000 tickets of all variants were sold.

Though Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) did not give a break-up, the clear best-seller was the Rs 1,200 variant, whose tickets ran out within hours. On the other end of the popularity spectrum were the uber-priced donor tickets at Rs 10,000, Rs 12,000 and Rs 15,000. There was hardly crowd before the specially reserved counter.

No arrangement had been made for the fair sprinkling of disabled fans. After much hullabaloo, donor ticket counter was also thrown open to them.

On the sunny side, policing was effective ' city SP Vipul Shukla was personally present ' and the entire process of buying tickets was smooth.

Smiles on faces said it all. "We were here since 2am, armed with jackets and blankets. We are happy to get tickets," Dhurwa resident Rakesh Ranjan, with his group of five friends, flashed a thumbs up.

Sixty-year-old grandmom Dulari Devi was in high spirits. "I have no idea who's playing against whom. I just want to see Dhoni babua for the first time in his own city," she said, holding her eight-year-old granddaughter and flashing her ticket. "Mehnat laga par ticket jugaad kar liya. (It was hard work but I got the ticket)," the elderly lady grinned.

Police also shooed off the so-called 'proxy fans', hired to stand in queue and buy tickets for others. "Our main aim is to maintain law and order," said city SP Shukla.

On D-Day, January 19, entry to the stadium will begin from 8am.

"Once you are in, you can't go out. If you do, you won't be let in again. Except your ticket, keys, cellphone and purse, nothing else will be allowed inside," said R.K. Mallick, IG (provision) Jharkhand Police.

Though Mallick didn't divulge security details, calling them "confidential", he added: "Our aim is to put up a great show and we will succeed."

Did you face any glitch while buying the ODI tickets?

Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com

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