Friday, 01 April 2011 19:01
MUMBAI: Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan's search for a couple of passes for Saturday's World Cup final symbolised the region's insatiable thirst for the game and the popularity of its biggest spectacle.
Muralitharan wants his Indian in-laws to be part of his international swansong and media reports said he had approached the local organisers to arrange some passes for them.
It was not known if the off-spinner was successful.
"It's a small stadium and I guess it's not possible to accommodate everyone's demand," a Sri Lankan official told Reuters on Friday.
Thousands of fans, who could not grab one of those 4000 tickets put on sale, are ready to beg, borrow or steal a ticket to be there.
Choosing Wankhede as the final venue raised a few eyebrows amid growing frustration for shortage of tickets as the 33,442-seater stadium has the second lowest capacity out of the eight Indian arenas hosting matches during the six-week tournament.
While Kolkata's revamped Eden Gardens could hold almost 60,000 fans, Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla and Ahmedabad's Sardar Patel grounds have around 50,000 seats but all of them were overlooked for Saturday's showpiece match.
"There is a tremendous demand but unfortunately, the capacity is limited," International Cricket Council (ICC) President Sharad Pawar told reporters on Friday.
"The stadium capacity is 32000. Mumbai requires a stadium with 100,000-plus capacity but this is a situation we can't change," said Pawar, who also heads the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA).
"The stadium was constructed 35 years back and we just renovated it. It was not possible to expand beyond what we have done here."
The huge demand-supply gulf earlier in the tournament had also enraged fans in Nagpur, Bangalore and Ahmedabad, prompting police to baton-charge them.
In February, the official online ticket website crashed due to 10 million people chasing just 1,000 final tickets that had been put up for sale at the time. Rampant black-marketing has been taking place and several fans told Reuters they were quoted 125,000 to 150,000 rupees ($2,813 - $3,375) for a ticket with a face value of around 15,000 rupees ($337.5).
But Pawar was quick to dismiss it.
"I read it in the newspaper but there is no definite information. What the MCA has done was totally transparent and tickets were sold through internet and lottery," he said.
Copyright Reuters, 2011