Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar/Cuttack, Oct 30:
Excited cricket fans waited patiently for hours at the Biju Patnaik airport in the Odisha capital today to have a glimpse of their favourite cricket stars even as thousands of them waited in long, serpentine queues at the three counters at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack to get tickets for the India-Sri Lanka one-day international match to be played there on Sunday.
The excitement continued all day as the Indian players started arriving at the Biju Patnaik airport in batches of two and three and were then escorted amid tight security to the Mayfair Hotel where they would be lodged.
The first to arrive were off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and opening batsman Murali Vijay, along with some support staff of the team,who reached here from Chennai at about 10 am today.
Ajinkya Rahane and wicket keeper Riddhiman Saha, who will be donning the gloves in the match in the absence of captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, were the next to arrive in the city in the afternoon. They were followed by fast bowlers Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaaron.
The largest batch of players arrived in the evening from Delhi. Among those who came on the flight from Delhi were star batsman Virat Kohli, who will be captaining the side in Dhoni’s absence.
The Sri Lankan players are scheduled at arrive tomorrow morning.
Meanwhile, thousands of fans, many of them girls, waited hours in queue for their turn to get tickets for the match on Sunday.
“I am looking forward to cheering Virat Kohli. But I will certainly miss Dhoni,” said an excited girl in the queue.
The three ticket counters would also remain open from 9 am to 9 pm tomorrow, said honorary secretary of Odisha Cricket Association (OCA), Asirbad Behera.
“We have taken foolproof measures, including bar coding, to ensure that fake ticket holders are kept out. If someone comes with a ticket that is not genuine, he or she will be easily caught,” Behera said.
Twin City commissioner RP Sharma said elaborate security arrangements had been made to prevent any untoward incident during the players’ stay in the state.
As many as 60 platoons of police would be displayed in and around the stadium on match day while there would be tight security when the players of the two teams do their net practice tomorrow afternoon, Cuttack DCP Sanjeev Arora said.
Meanwhile, finishing touches were given to the pitch today. “It would be a sporting pitch, which would provide equal opportunities to both bowlers and batsmen,” said curator Pankaj Patnaik.