When the Brabourne Stadium last hosted an Indian Premier League match in 2015, the stands were filled to their full capacity, both teams had their own sets of cheerleaders and there were no restrictions of masks and sanitisation for fans.
As the stadium owned by the Cricket Club of India (CCI) hosted its first match IPL match after a gap of nearly eight years with Mumbai Indians taking on Delhi Capitals in IPL 2022 on Sunday, the conditions have changed a lot.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, only attendance was restricted to only 25% of the stadium’s capacity, thus leaving many seats empty. There were no cheerleaders and the match was being conducted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and not the franchise as earlier. The spectators were allowed in as per Covid-19 protocols of BCCI and the players are in a bio-secure bubble.
“We look forward to coming back to Mumbai, the crowds come out in large numbers. Obviously some restrictions in terms of capacity but good to see crowds,” said Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma at the toss.
But some things were the same — the stadium was a sea of blue with the colours of Mumbai Indians visible here and there. Though Rohit Sharma had said before the start of the match that it was an ‘away’ match for his team as their home ground is the Wankhede stadium, there was still a lot of support for the Mumbai-based team.
Also in focus on Sunday was the lack of facilities for fans at cricket stadiums in India as some spectators were not impressed with the seating arrangements in stands, complained about the chairs provided in the stands.
A fan named Sanchit Desai, with the handle @sanchitd43, tweeted a picture of the plastic chairs in the stands and said better arrangements should have been made.
“Surely for 3K ticket prices, acche seats toh de dete. WTF Brabourne?” he tweeted.
Another fan, Vinesh Prabhu (@vlp1994) tweeted the photograph of plastic chairs in the East Stand and said it was a bit “unfair” for the fans to expect the fans to sit on those chairs in the hot and humid conditions. (The East Stand does not have a roof, the West Stand has).
“England had made temporary stands during the WC. “I don’t know how far it’s possible here but after paying 3000-3500 Rs, I think sitting on plastic chairs and that too in this extremely hot weather, is a bit unfair
“Not complaining though but there needs to be a solution,” he tweeted.
Another fan called Ibrahim (@iBM1105) tweeted: “And people were trolling Shadi wale kursiyan in Pakistan (laughing face emoji) Wtf is this in Brabourne stadium. Aur @ImRo45 bhai ye hai tumhare city k 3-4 stadiums. Mast hai (laughing face emojis).
Despite the apparent discomfiture, the atmosphere in the stands was festive with die-hard Mumbai cricket fans enjoying watching their first match from a stadium after a break. With it being a Sunday, there were enough people around the stadium that had come to soak in the cricket atmosphere.
Like a young fan from Kolkata in the East Stand that claimed to be the biggest fan of Shane Watson, a former IPL star player who is now assistant coach of Delhi Capitals. The fan was holding a placard with “Biggest fan of Watto from Kolkata. Here only for my Idol Shane Watson” written on it.
So all in all it was a festive atmosphere at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai despite the problems faced by some fans.