Rain, poll fever puts Pune’s cricket faithful to the Test ahead of India-Proteas clash
PUNE One eye on the rain, the other on the pitch.
That seems to be the team strategies for India and South Africa ahead of the second Test that begins at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) stadium in Gahunje today.
India leads the three-match series 1-0, winning the first match by 203 runs. The final Test will be played at Ranchi from October 19.
Even as the Indian team took to the pitch early on Wednesday, beating the late evening showers, Riyaz Bagban, secretary, Maharashtra Cricket Association, is not too concerned.
“Ours is sand based-outfield, it dries up quickly. Even if it rains heavily overnight the ground will be ready the next morning,” says Bagban.
The Gahunje locals, who were expecting a business windfall, the kind that small businesses can build an innings on, however, are not so hopeful.
“It is raining every day. What will happen if it rains tonight (Wednesday)? How will the Test match happen?” was the query, Ram Kadam, a tea seller in Gahunje raised.
Punekars adopt wait and watch strategy
The MCA ground has witnessed full houses during T20s and ODIs it has hosted in the past, but when it comes to five-day, red-ball cricket, the crowds have not yet showed up.
“It is not a full house on any day yet. Tickets for all the stands are still available,” said a counter salesperson at PYC Hindu Gymkhana, requesting anonymity.
“Day tickets are more in demand than five-day tickets,” the staffer added.
Students from Indira College at Wakad capture the predominant mood in the city.
“Ar the moment I am stuck with my campus selections, so there is no chance of going to the stadium. Otherwise, I would have loved to go and watch,” said Aman Prasad, student from Indira college.
The Maharashtra assembly elections, on October 21, are also being cited as a possible puncture to the cricket fever ballooning in the city.
“People are talking about elections right now and then the Test match. I don’t think there will be rush at the stadium,” mused Gajanan Shinde, a resident from Swargate.
Tushar Atre, a 24-year-old student of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering at DY Patil College, however, is among those flying the flag high for city cricket fans. “I bought two West Stand tickets (day 1) for just Rs 400. My and friend and I will be here on Thursday just to watch Virat Kohli,” says an excited Atre.
100 free passes every day for disabled fans, schools
The Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) is offering 100 seats per day to institutions serving the disabled.
(MCA) also invites all schools to utilise the opportunity of witnessing India-South Africa Test match.
The association is also offering free tickets to schools for any one of the days of the Test match. Interested schools have been requested to draft a ‘letter of intent’ addressed to MCA, along with a list of accompanying teachers.
A scanned copy is to be sent to email@example.com or physically submitted at the MCA stadium, Gahunje.
Helpline numbers for the same are 7414920951/7414920950.
MCA has made it clear that schools will be responsible for transporting the student to and from the venue.