Bangalore, Dec 26: The first high-voltage T20 match between arch rivals India and Pakistan late Tuesday drew frenzied fans in hordes to the Chinnaswamy stadium but unprecedented security kept them on the edge, as they were under watchful eyes of hundreds of cops deployed across the stands.
A blanket ban on carrying any object into the stands, including banners, placards, buntings, trumpets or even drums robbed the enthusiastic fans from waving, hooting or blaring as in the domestic India Premier League (IPL) series.
"I have never seen such tight security in the stadium. This is the first time I am watching an exciting match under controlled conditions. I was frisked thrice before I could enter the stands. In a way, it is good to regulate fans for maintaining discipline though it shackles our right to express," said N. Mohan Kumar, a law student.
With the stadium turning into a virtual fortress to keep potential trouble makers away and prevent any sort of demonstration outside or inside the venue, fans had tough time in entering the stadium in time as parking was banned 1km around and vehicular movement was restricted.
Absence of Pakistan fans robs of bipartisan support, colour
Resumption of the much-hyped bilateral series for the shorter version of the game brought an upbeat Pakistan team to India after a gap of five years, but not hundreds of fans from across the border, as they could not get tickets for this match in time to secure visas and make travel arrangements.
"Though we were told initially that about 500 visas were earmarked for the Bangalore match, tickets for our fans did not come in time to apply for visas and travel all the way to south India. The Indian High Commission insisted on producing tickets and hotel reservations for granting visas. As it takes at least seven working days for completing the formalities, many fans kept away," a Pakistan official accompanying the team told IANS.
Barring the 16-member Pakistan squad and a dozen officials, absence of Pakistani fans in the stadium was conspicuous though the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) allotted a separate stand in the pavilion for a ring side view of the match on a green turf.
"We hope some of our fans will be able to make it to the three ODIs (one-day internationals) series after the second T20 in Ahmedabad Dec 28. We are expecting a large turn out of our fans for the ODI in New Delhi Jan 6," the official quipped.
Tame surrender by Indian batters disappoint die-hard fans
Collapse of the Indian middle order and a paltry 133 runs for nine wickets in the stipulated 20 overs after openers Gautam Gambhir (43) and Ajinkya Rahane (42) gave a sold start to the team disappointed die-hard fans to no end.
Put to bat after their captain M.S. Dhoni lost the toss, the 77-run opening partnership raised hopes of fans to watch an exciting contest between the arch-rivals and Indian team putting up a defendable score to win the tie. Alas!
"It is pretty disappointing to see the way they got out one after another without applying their mind and putting up a fight. A lot was expected from Yuvraj Singh, who lofted a huge six of the first ball he faced from Shahid Afridi, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma. But they all fell wayside. Credit goes to Pakistan's discipline bowling and perseverance to let Indians falter," lamented Sanjay Singh, a businessman, who bought two Rs.1,600 tickets to watch the match.