Huge crowds at first two ODIs give fillip to 50-over game

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The capacity crowds witnessed in the first two matches of the India-Australia series has come as a boost to the 50-over format.

Updated: October 28, 2009 10:21 IST
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At a time when one-day cricket's survival is at stake in the face of the Twenty20 onslaught, the capacity crowds witnessed in the first two matches of the India-Australia series has come as a boost to the 50-over format.

A near-capacity crowd watched the day/night limited overs international, the second of the seven-match series, at the 45,000-seater new VCA Stadium here between India and Australia.

The match has witnessed a fantastic turnout at the one-year-old international venue in this Orange City when compared to the dismal crowd at this place just last year.

All roads seem to lead to the new VCA Stadium at Jamtha, situated 16 kms from the centre of the Orange City, just off the Nagpur-Hyderabad highway.

There was a huge traffic jam on the entire stretch with fans rushing to the ground to witness the high-octane encounter between the top two ODI teams of the world.

They had to wait in long queues to enter the stadium and take their seats.

It was in stark contrast to the dismal gathering of around 2000-3000 fans on a daily basis at the 45,000-seater stadium when the same two teams clashed in the fourth and final match of the Test rubber in 2008.

Ricky Ponting was then the Australian captain while Mahendra Singh Dhoni had just taken over from Anil Kumble, who had retired from the game at the end of the previous Delhi Test.

It was also the last match for former captain Sourav Ganguly for India and he must have been extremely disappointed at the turnout for his swansong game.

The reason given then was that the stadium was too far away for the average Nagpur cricket fan to make an effort and reach it for watching the proceedings 'live'.

That has been proven wrong by the fabulous crowd support to the match on Wednesday.

Dhoni, asked about the crowd turnout on the eve of the first ODI, said it would be prudent to wait till the end of the series to be able to answer the question about the future of the 50-over game.

Seeing the enthusiasm shown by the fans in the first two matches of this series, the answer appears a bit obvious, at least in India.

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