GUWAHATI, Nov 28 � Much-awaited as it was, the One Day International (ODI) featuring India and New Zealand at the city�s Nehru Stadium fell somewhat short of drawing the crowds at the levels expected.
Given that it is the entire North-east�s lone international cricket venue, and the fact that all the previous encounters here featuring India had drawn almost capacity crowds, the series opener can be termed as a disappointment. Apparently, there was a dip in the enthusiasm of the region�s cricket fans for the match � something testified to by the large number of unsold tickets.
The stadium with a capacity of 23,000 could only house some 16,000 cricket fans. Several galleries held only a partial gathering, which is seldom associated with the Nehru Stadium featuring an ODI.
The crowd attendance was always expected to be poor in the absence of star Indian players but things further worsened after two star performers from the New Zealand team in skipper Daniel Vettori and swashbuckling opener Brendon McCullum opted out of the series opener at the last moment.
Matters were not helped either by the absence of two of the reputed commentators Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar, affecting the TV viewership.
Another disappointment was the absence of Umpire Billy Bowden, one of the members of ICC�s elite panel of umpires and regarded more as an entertainer.
�More than anything else, it was the absence of star cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Mahendra Singh Dhoni that acted as a dampener,� felt Bikash Sarma, an ardent cricket fan.
�The new-look India under Gautam Gambhir and the Kiwis may have quality players but they lack the crowd pulling capacity,� Sarma opined.
Besides skipper Dhoni, India have rested star players Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh due to injury concerns ahead of the World Cup.
�Today�s match should have been a more memorable one as it is most likely to be the last match in the Nehru Stadiums, with future ODIs to be held in the cricket stadium at Barsapara. But the major disappointment was the absence of the stars,� Sanjiv Bora, a student of Cotton College, said.
The ACA has decided to host future matches at the Barsapara stadium exclusively built for cricket as the Nehru Stadium is a multi-purpose venue.