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Posted at: Mar 19, 2017, 2:12 AM; last updated: Mar 19, 2017, 2:12 AM (IST)

New venue but same old empty feeling

20km outside city, Ranchi stadium mostly empty
New venue but same old empty feeling
Even though Ranchi is hosting its first ever Test, only a handful of spectators are turning up to enjoy the action. PTI

Sabi Hussain

Tribune News Service

Ranchi, March 18

The Jharkhand State Cricket Association stadium, hosting its first Test, can accommodate 38,000 spectators, but only up to 6,000 seats have been occupied daily.

Why are the people of Ranchi giving this historical Test a miss? One factor could be the lack of interest in Test cricket — the IPL matches here have been well-attended. The other big reason, clearly, is the difficulty in reaching the ground. The stadium is around 20km outside the city, and public transport is not readily available. The autowallahs charge a fortune for the 20km journey, up to Rs 350.

Ola offers cheaper rides, but there are not enough cabs on the roads. Getting to the stadium in the morning is difficult, but it is almost impossible to get transport back to the city in the evening. You need to walk 20 minutes to a bus stop and pray that a bus would arrive soon.

The locals who travel by their own conveyance need to get off 2km away and walk the rest of the way. There’s no designated parking space, and private operators have cropped up, charging Rs 200 for cars and Rs 100 for motorcycles.

The spectators can’t take in any eatables, and food is over-priced inside the stadium. The cheaper, lower-tier tickets cost Rs 250, so watching a day’s cricket can cost up to Rs 1,500.

Tough trek

“There’s no point having a stadium where one can’t reach easily,” said Surinder Kumar, a chartered accountant. “ODIs and IPL matches are only for one day. Who would want to go through all this trouble for five days? I came only because my kids wanted to see Virat Kohli bat.”

A visiting Australian journalist had a nightmarish experience on the first day. “No public transport was available in the morning, so a hotel staff dropped me on his motorcycle,” he said. “In the evening, I waited for nearly an hour outside the stadium before getting a shared auto. I was carrying Australian dollars, and the other passengers looked like bad characters. I was just praying for my safety.”

Three of the other new Test venues  —  in Rajkot, Visakhapatnam and Pune — are also way outside the city, but the crowds there were better. BCCI hoped to attract hordes to the Tests in the smaller cities, but the crowds have been modest at best or, in the case of Ranchi, poor.

The sad part is that the stadium here is very good, with excellent facilities for the players. It’s a pity not much was done to lure in the spectators. 

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