SCA gears up for possible disruption to Rajkot ODI

Friday, 9 October 2015 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

ESPNcricinfo: The Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) is on the alert against any disruption of the third ODI between India and South Africa in Rajkot on 18 October, as threatened by followers of Hardik Patel, the young leader of a new movement demanding quotas for the Patidari community. The state of Gujarat has witnessed severe disruptions and incidents of violence in the past few weeks, with curfew imposed in some areas, including the biggest city of BUP_DFT_DFT-19-9Ahmedabad.

Newspapers in Rajkot have reported, quoting sources close to Hardik, that his supporters were planning to buy around 10,000 tickets for the ODI and use the high-profile match to send out a political message.

The SCA is confident the match will go ahead without disruption, but is going to follow procedures strictly to ensure the ODI isn’t hijacked by political protest. A total of 11,000 tickets are going to go up for sale for the general public, 9,000 at ticket windows and 2,000 online. No person will be allowed to buy more than two tickets, and every buyer will be asked to produce his national identity proof, a copy of which will be kept in the SCA records and matched with seat numbers, Niranjan Shah, the president of the association, told ESPNcricinfo. Shah said the association will coordinate with Rajkot rural police to make sure strict security arrangements are in place.

However, there is no stopping buyers from handing over their tickets to others: there is no stipulation that tickets are not transferable. “If by some way they still manage to form clusters of protestors, we will have top security arrangements – 2,500 policemen – to maintain order,” Shah said.

“We are not going to stop them shouting slogans or revealing clothes with political messages, but we can ask the BCCI production to not give them any play during the broadcast.”

Online tickets have already been sold out, and the ticket windows open on 12 October.

Rajkot is no stranger to crowd disruption. In 2002-03 an ODI between India and West Indies had to be stopped only 27.1 overs into India’s chase of West Indies’ 300. Water bottles hit Vasbert Drakes and narrowly missed substitute Ryan Hinds, while Pedro Collins, who was not even playing, was struck by a small sandbag. India were 200 for 1 thanks to a Virender Sehwag special at the top, and a curious decision was made to award India the match based on Duckworth-Lewis calculations. Wisden reported: “Local rumour was that bookmakers had sabotaged the match to stop India winning, and had been floored by the outcome.”