What happened to the Chattogram crowd?
Shakib Al Hasan was standing near the boundary at the media end in the evening during Bangladesh's bowling innings but no huge crowd had gathered near the outer fences to cheer him on yesterday. Empty stands had greeted the players in the dead rubber third ODI between Bangladesh and India on Monday and it was quite opposite to the trend set by the Chattogram crowd in the past. With England already sealing the series at Dhaka, did the Chattogram crowd lose interest?
The Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium produces good scores and historically pulls in the crowd. But even in the recently-concluded BPL, the scenario had been similar.
Nearly three-fourth of the gallery remained empty as the match wore on yesterday as Bangladesh defeated England by 50 runs. Even as Bangladesh batted first, the numbers did not grow. Ahead of the start of the series, there was no real hunt for tickets from supporters at the stadium. In the past, there has been huge interest from fans to collect tickets ahead of the game.
A BCB official, while talking to this reporter a day ahead of the game, exclaimed his surprise. "There has been no real upheaval from supporters looking for tickets. Usually we have a lot of crowd here but tickets have gone unsold," he said on Sunday.
Was Bangladesh's performance in this series a reason for the crowd to not turn up. During the BPL, the crowd did not turn up as expected due to Chattogram team's performance.
Even fans present at the stadium have not seen such empty stands. In the eastern gallery, Jisan did not mind the empty gallery.
"I haven't seen such low turnout here ever. I always turn up when Bangladesh play at Chattogram but haven't seen such a low turnout. But it's nice," he said.
Another fan was less than impressed.
"Supporters are the lifeblood of the game. It's an occasion celebrated in the gallery when the game takes place in Chattogram. It's very empty today and it's not really fun watching like this. Bangladesh team's performance not being very good saw many lose interest. But Bangladesh will turn things around and the gallery will come alive again," he said.
There were some England fans present at the Stadium. One named Martin was pretty surprised by the turnout.
"I was a bit surprised and shocked to such low numbers at the stadium.
"Tickets are quite cheap here compared to England. Opportunity is there to watch an international fixture for 200 bucks," he said.
"We have Champions like Jos Butler, Sam Curran, Jason Roy, Adil Rashid in our team. When you get an opportunity to watch them play, you should grab that," said the English fan.
Another fan, a student who came in during the latter part of the game felt the tickets were a bit expensive.
"The ticket are a bit expensive for us since we are students and do not have any source of income," he opined.
It remains to be seen whether the crowd turns up for the first T20I of the series on Thrusday, March 9. Following the first T20I, the series will move to Dhaka for the second and third T20I on March 12 and 14th respectively.