The Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) had claimed that 40,000 tickets had been sold for the first Test of the four-match series at its stadium in Jamtha but only 12,000 of them turned up at the stadium on the opening day on Thursday.
But that was a good enough crowd considering it is a weekday and it was Australia that were batting first and not India. Pat Cummins won the toss and opted to bat first in front of 9,000 spectators. The crowd swelled to 12,000 in the afternoon session as the Indian bowlers did well to reduce Australia to 174/8 at tea.
The VCA will be hoping that a majority of the 40,000 that purchased the tickets fill the stands on Friday to watch the Indian innings. They are also expecting heavy crowds over the weekend, filling the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium here at Jamtha.
There is a lot of interest among fans in Nagpur as the City is hosting a Test after November 201. The Jamtha Stadium has so far hosted six Tests so far and has been quite a successful venue for India as they have four of the six matches played at this venue.
The sparse crowd had a gala time despite the sun bearing down on them in the lower tiers, cheering the Indian players as the hosts bowled out Australia for 177 in their first innings.
A section of the crowd had their fill of the cricket’s demi gods as they chased former cricketers Dinesh Karthik, Irfan Pathan, Matthew Hayden and Sunil Joshi, all of whom are here on commentary duty, for autographs and photos during breaks in the play and scurried between the field of play and commentary box.
The interest in the city could also be gauzed from the fact that a huge number of vendors have set up their stalls at the old VCA Stadium in the City, selling flags, jerseys and other materials to support the Indian team. With the stadium in Jamtha way outside the city, the vendors thought it prudent to sell their wares at the Old VCA Stadium where fans usually come to collect their tickets purchased online.
In the last few years, people have bemoaned that Test cricket is on the wane due to a lack of interest among spectators following the proliferation of the slam-bang limited overs cricket, especially the T20 format.
On Wednesday, Rohit Sharma said it was a good sign for Test cricket that there is so much interest for Test cricket and hoped that people will come to the stadiums in big numbers at other venues during the four-match series.
“Good sign for Test cricket. Feels good that so many people are coming for Day 1. They should come to all the venues, not just Nagpur. It feels great when the crowd turns up. People want to watch good Test cricket,” Rohit Sharma said.
With only 12,000 of those 40,000 coming to the stadium on Thursday, it seems, good times are yet to arrive for Test cricket.