Hardship & negligence await fans at Kotla

DDCA is one of the most complacent cricket associations in India.

The Kotla Stadium

It is difficult for foreign visitors to understand what makes cricket tick in India.

Even with the temperature in the mid-30s on a weekday in a dead-rubber Test, the 45,000-capacity Ferozeshah Kotla was about a quarter full on Friday.

A lot of internet rumours regarding Sachin Tendulkar's impending retirement have also played a part in generating interest, and the passion of the fans could be seen early in the post-tea session when hundreds of people gathered at the bottom of the East Stand where the legend was fielding at the time.

Yet, it is perhaps this passion that has made most state associations around the country complacent, and the Delhi and District Cricket Association is probably at the top of the list.

As Mail Today reported on Friday, there are hardly any avenues for the fans to buy tickets, since the website doesn't work and there are no box office-type windows.

According to unofficial estimates, only about 9,000-10,000 tickets (including a large number of complimentary passes) had been snapped up for Friday's play.

The DDCA hasn't advertised the third way — purchasing through Bank of Baroda outlets — so most interested fans are unaware.

Then there is the struggle to get to the ground. Of course, the DDCA can't change the Kotla's cramped nature, but the fans are made to park at either Shanti Van (nearly 2kms away) or Bal Bhawan (over 1 km). The promised shuttle buses hardly ever materialise, and such was the case on Friday too, when a majority of fans had to walk to the ground.

"It was a bit difficult, especially since I had to carry my four-year-old son most of the way from the Bal Bhawan parking,” Ravinder Jaiswal, a businessman, said. "I really wanted to make this a special day for my son, but by the time we got to the ground, he was already complaining about why we couldn't have just watched on TV.”

Inside the ground, one has to pay through the nose for basic amenities like food and water, and the stalls are put up behind the stands, meaning anyone needing refreshment is guaranteed to miss the action, unless you are lucky enough to be sitting on the two hills on either side of the old pavilion.

All in all, if you are planning to catch the cricket on the weekend, be prepared to withstand hardships.