First series in 5 years, but no tickets for Pakistan fans
The BCCI had initially announced that they would issue 3000 general tickets for Pakistani fans for the series, but the catch is that as long as the fans don't have valid tickets, they will not be issued visas by the Indian High Commission. And the process of tickets being sold in Pakistan has been delayed.
Watching an India-Pakistan match live in a stadium is a definite feature on the bucket list of every cricket fan. And while some of the Indian fans are lucky to be fulifilling that wish in Ahmedabad tonight where India and Pakistan play the second T20 match, fans from across the border have been denied that opportunity.
Even in Bangalore, where the two arch-rivals played the first T20, 40,000 screaming fans packed the Chinnaswamy Stadium, but there weren't too many fans from Pakistan.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had initially announced that they would issue 3000 general tickets for Pakistani fans for the series, but the catch is that as long as the fans don't have valid tickets, they will not be issued visas by the Indian High Commission. And the process of tickets being sold in Pakistan has been delayed.
"What I understand is that it's not an issue of the BCCI as the tickets are printed by the regional associations, probably they have been very slow in getting the tickets printed so our fans are going to miss the first 2 or 3 matches being played in Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Chennai (venue for the first ODI)," PCB Chief Zaka Ashraf said.
"Now we hope to get tickets for the last 2 matches in Kolkata and Delhi. There is a lot of pressure and people are little annoyed here. Probably they think we are not giving them the support to get the visas, but the actual fact is because we haven't received the tickets. Till we don't receive the tickets we can't apply for visa as that is the rule of the Indian High Commission," he added.
But according to the BCCI, it was the Pakistan Cricket Board who told them that they didn't want 3000 tickets, they wanted fewer. The revised demand is for no tickets for the 2 T20s and 25 tickets each for the Chennai and Kolkata ODIs, which were sent to them on the 18th of December.
In the middle of all this, a ticket for this series seems to have become impossible to obtain.
"I haven't got a ticket. There's not a single ticket. I am hoping someone gives me one ticket. I will wait here all night till I get one," Mohammad Bashir, a fan from Pakistan, said.
As soon as the bilateral series was finalised, travel agencies in Pakistan were expecting to do brisk business, but thanks to the delay, they haven't seen the kind of rush they were expecting.
"It has been tough to organise tours for fans. There has been no co-operation from the PCB's side, and neither from BCCI," said Moiz Saleem Ahmed, who is a travel agent.
The biggest demand for tickets for Pakistani fans is for the Delhi ODI on the 6th of January. As many as 1000 tickets are expected to be sent to the PCB. But the BCCI itself hasn't received the tickets yet from the DDCA.