Home Sports Overflowing Kotla greets Pakistan in tour opener

Overflowing Kotla greets Pakistan in tour opener


New Delhi : The atmosphere at Ferozeshah Kotla here was electric as more than 15,000 spectators poured in to watch Pakistan start their much-hyped cricket tour of India Friday with a practice match against Delhi.

Serpentine queues greeted enthusiasts outside the stadium as the people of the national capital braved a crisp November morning to cheer a young Delhi side against a formidable Pakistan attack.

The A and B wings of the stands, opened to the public for the first time after renovation, were soon overflowing as Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) had decided to allow free entry.

“We want the common man to come in and fill the stadium. Today we have made the entry free and our move paid off as we have a good crowd for a practice match,” said DDCA president Arun Jaitley.

People of all age groups came out in large numbers to catch a glimpse of their favourite Pakistan cricketers with mercurial fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar easily the biggest draw.

The stadium burst into cheers as Akhtar marked his run-up to open the bowling from the clubhouse end.

“I have heard a lot about Shoaib and I wanted to see him in action. I am lucky to come here today and watch him bowl. I don’t know whether I will get tickets for the first Test here from Nov 22,” gushed Harvinder Singh, who had travelled from Dilshad Garden in east Delhi to watch the tour opener.

The 32-year-old tearaway fast bowler has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons but is back after serving a 13-match ODI ban imposed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

Akhtar was banned after he assaulted teammate Mohammed Asif with a bat in the dressing room a day before the start of the Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa and was promptly sent home in disgrace.

The paceman appeared to be in a jolly mood here, busy signing autographs for eager young fans while fielding in the deep.

Shahid Afridi, another player with a huge fan following, was also greeted with huge cheers when he came to bowl. He was also embraced by a die-hard fan who raced into the ground at the end of the first inning.