DDCA disappointed with low Kotla turn-out

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/c/cricgen3.jpg' class='caption'> The crowd was thin but the enthusiasm was upbeat as some 15,000 fans turned up at the 50,000-seater Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium on the Day 1.

Updated: November 01, 2008 09:25 IST
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New Delhi:

The crowd was thin but the enthusiasm was upbeat as some 15,000 fans turned up at the 50,000-seater Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium on the opening day of the third Test between India and Australia on Wednesday.

Low turn out at Test matches in recent times has been a problem for the International Cricket Council (ICC). The empty stands at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium in Mohali despite the massive hype surrounding the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy has even left the ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat disappointed and concerned over the waning interest in Test cricket.

What surprised Lorgat more was that even Sachin Tendulkar's feat of becoming the highest run getter in Tests was greeted by near-empty stands at Mohali.

The crowd response was a shade better in Delhi than Mohali but that was only a consolation for the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), which was expecting a much bigger turnout during the festive season.

"Obviously we are disappointed. But this is the trend now, the average turnout being just 20 percent at Test matches," DDCA general secretary S.P. Bansal said.

Bansal also dismissed reports that the DDCA was going to throw open the gates for the remaining days to fill the stands.

"How can we do that? It's a security risk and who will take the responsibility for it? Moreover, the police won't allow us to do that," he added.

A two-layer security arrangement has been put in place for the match.

Bansal, however, hoped spectators would pour in large numbers on the last two days of the Test - Saturday and Sunday.

However, those who turned out on a pleasant afternoon enjoyed every single moment under the warm sun. With four local boys - Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Ishant Sharma and Amit Mishra - in the playing XI, the crowd had all reasons to be excited.

Tendulkar got a huge cheer as he walked in to bat and didn't disappoint his fans. The batting maestro scored a strokeful 68.

"It was great to see Tendulkar scoring a dominating 50. I wish he had converted it into a big 100," said Tarun Makhijani, a die-hard Tendulkar fan in a freaky hairdo.

Even the Australian fans had come out in a good number. A bunch of 41 Aussies, wearing the team colours, were also cheering as the hosts received early jolts, losing Sehwag and Rahul Dravid in the first session.

"Yes, it was fun to see the guys showing their character to fight back. They look a happy lot," said Adam, a Victorian.

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