Hyderabad: The Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Uppal sported a sea-of-blue look with supporters thronging the stadium to support Team India which took on Australia in the first One-Day International match here on Saturday.
The excitement was palpable as the city was hosting an ODI after a gap of over four years. The last ODI at this venue was against Sri Lanka on November 9, 2014 which the hosts won by six wickets. Though the IPL matches are being played every year, the frenzy for the national team is always high. That was not different this time around.
With Australia winning the toss and choosing to bat and the weather hovering around 32 degrees, it was around 23,577 in the first half hour of the game. In two hours’ time, the number rose to 34,108 before touching 36,151 — which is close to a packed stadium — at the time of Indian innings.
The security was beefed up for this match in the wake of the major security breach that happened during the India-West Indies Test match at this venue when a spectator managed to invade the pitch and took a selfie with Virat Kohli. The security cameras at that time in the stadium were around 56. They installed new cameras, meanwhile, and another 200 in the recent times, making it over 300 now. As many as 2,300 police personnel — including traffic, law and order, battalion, special forces and SHE teams – along with private security from Agile Group were deputed for the smooth conduct of the match.
However, the age-old problems at the venue greeted the spectators. The spectators who spent money to buy tickets in the East and West stands had to bear the brunt of the sun with no shade. The Hyderabad Cricket Association officials failed to install tents for temporary relief. On top of it, they promised to provide free water for all. However, only five to six water cans were provided which were emptied in double quick time owing to high mercury levels. The private vendors too chose not to sell water. Instead, they were selling cool drinks with 450 ml glass costing around Rs 50.
“There is no water available. When we searched for the water, all we could find was empty water cans. So we had to buy the cool drinks to quench our thirst. I think if they sell the water bottles, no one will buy cool drinks. That’s why they are not selling water,” said Srikanth Hanumandri, who came all the way from Tigul from Gajwel district to witness his favourite stars in live action.
Echoing the similar feelings, Praveen, who managed to get hold of a complementary pass for the match, said, “I am a big fan and I had to beg my friend to arrange for a ticket. I could not find a ticket online since a week and whatever left are very costly. But the facilities are not good. It is so hot and there is no place to take cover,” he rued.