Muttiah Muralitharan Criticizes PCB For Expensive Tickets And Empty Stands In India Vs. Pakistan Clash In Asia Cup 2023

The cricket clash between India and Pakistan is nothing short of an epic spectacle. The high-octane rivalry between these two cricketing giants has historically drawn fans from all corners of the globe. However, the Asia Cup 2023 fixtures between these arch-rivals in Sri Lanka have presented an unusual sight of empty stands. This unexpected turn of events has left cricket enthusiasts searching for answers.

The Asia Cup 2023 initially posed a unique challenge. India’s reluctance to travel to Pakistan due to political tensions forced the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) to adopt a hybrid model for the tournament. Under this arrangement, four games were scheduled in Pakistan, with the remaining matches in Sri Lanka. All of India’s fixtures were slated for Sri Lanka.

The root cause of the near-empty stadiums in Sri Lanka is the high ticket prices set by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), the official host of the continental tournament. Muttiah Muralitharan, the legendary Sri Lankan spinner, has voiced his concerns regarding this pricing strategy.

Sri Lanka is grappling with a severe financial crisis, further exacerbating the issue. The ticket prices were initially exorbitant, starting from Sri Lankan Rupees 6000 and soaring upwards to 40000 to 50000 Sri Lankan Rupees for grandstand seats. For many Sri Lankans, this translates to an entire month’s salary.

In an exclusive conversation with News18, Muralitharan said, “It is the PCB who has decided the prices for these tickets as they are hosting the Asia Cup this year. Sri Lanka is currently going through a financial crisis. The ticket prices are really expensive, and they were reduced at the last moment (just before the India vs. Pakistan match in Colombo), but it doesn’t work that way. The ticket prices start from Sri Lankan Rupees 6000 and upwards. If you want to watch the match from the grandstands, it is 40000 to 50000 Sri Lankan Rupees, equivalent to a person’s monthly salary. No one can afford that much money in Sri Lanka.”

Recognizing the excessive pricing’s impact, Sri Lanka Cricket announced last-minute reductions in ticket prices to Rs 500 and Rs 1000. However, these adjustments failed to attract a substantial crowd. The sight of empty stands during the India-Pakistan Super Four match was rare and unexpected.

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Cricket fans expressed their dismay on social media platforms like Twitter, with many sharing images of deserted stadiums during the high-stakes clash. Former Pakistani cricketer Mohammed Hafeez lamented, “Never witnessed such a response from cricket fans towards #PAKvIND game. #AsiaCup2023 @ACCMedia1 Empty stadium.”

Muralitharan empathized with the cricket-loving audience, stating, “People want to come and watch these matches, but they can’t afford such high-priced tickets.” Sri Lanka has a rich tradition of filling stadiums during cricket matches, but financial constraints and skyrocketing ticket prices have disrupted this norm.

The unpredictable weather in Sri Lanka has added another layer of complexity to the situation. A league match between India and Pakistan ended in a tie due to rain, potentially discouraging fans from taking the risk. Additionally, there was confusion regarding the venue change from Colombo to Hambantota for the Super Four matches and the final.

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