KOLKATA: A little over a year ago, former England captain Tony Greig had called the Eden Gardens ‘a morgue’ after a handful of spectators turned up for an India-West Indies Test. Alas! If only the cricketer had lived a few more days, he would have felt better.
For less than a week after the demise of the popular commentator, the iconic ground is all set to abuzz with a capacity crowd cheering arch-rivals India and Pakistan in the One-day International on Thursday.
The stadium’s custodian Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) has announced a sell-out crowd.
“All the tickets have been sold out. It will be a sell-out crowd,” said CAB treasurer Biswarup Dey.
On the flip side though, only 3,500 tickets were made available for general spectators. Also, for the first time for an international match at the Eden, tickets for general spectators were sold only online.
With access to the internet perhaps a difficult proposition for ordinary cricket fans, beneficiaries are likely to be the net savvy urban population.
The rest of the tickets were set aside as complimentary or sold to CAB-affiliated clubs.
The hallowed ground, known for its boisterous and sporting crowd, had been low on the decibel count in the recent past causing concern among many former cricket greats.
The sight of just 1,000 spectators at a stadium with a capacity of 65,000 during an India-West Indies Test in November 2011 had prompted the celebrated Greig to call it a place for the dead. “The Eden Gardens was one of my favourite grounds because of its wonderful atmosphere. Today, it looks and sounds like a morgue,” tweeted Greig.
The stadium set up in 1864 could host around 1,00,000 spectators before it was renovated ahead of last year’s World Cup. Now its capacity is 66,000.
As India come to the ground down 0-1 in the series, a packed Eden would expect the hosts to create history by winning their first ODI against Pakistan on this ground and square the three-match series.
The hosts have lost all three ODIs that they have played against Pakistan earlier here.—Agencies