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IND vs SA, 1st ODI: Coronavirus, rain affect ticket sales in Dharamsala

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The novel coronavirus outbreak and inclement weather here have affected the ticket sales for the opening ODI of the three-match series between India and South Africa.

Only 16,000 tickets out of 22,000 were sold till Tuesday for the series opener at the picturesque Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) Stadium. The numbers, though, are expected to rise as the organisers are still awaiting sales figures from online partners Paytm.

“We have sold around 16,000 tickets over the counter but we still haven’t got sales figures from Paytm. Normally, the demand for tickets of international matches here are huge but the coronavirus outbreak has taken a toll this time,” a top HPCA official told PTI.

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“Foreign fans, which amount to around 1,000 are not travelling this time because of various travel advisories. We used to cater to a lot of spectators from adjoining Punjab, Harayana and Delhi which is not notable this time because of the current situation.”

Not a single journalist from South Africa is touring with the national team for the series.

The HPCA, on its part, have put in place huge hoardings both inside and outside the ground, educating people on precautionary measures against coronavirus.

“We have placed hoardings throughout the stadium informing spectators about preventive measures from coronavirus,” the official said.

Adverse weather conditions have also affected the ticket sales with rains and thundershowers predicted for Thursday, the day of the match, and Friday because of fresh western disturbance over north Pakistan and adjoining Jammu and Kashmir.

“Rain is also a factor but the weather is not in our hands. But in case of rains, we have the equipment to prepare the ground in two hours,” the HPCA official said.

It has been raining since Tuesday night. A heavy spell of thundershowers also lashed the hill town just after the team’s practice sessions on Wednesday, forcing the organisers to cover the entire playing area.

Rains have played havoc here in the past as well with the last international game between India and South Africa — a T20 — washed out without a ball being bowled in September last year.

Locals, fans and the organisers have offered prayers at the Indrunag Temple in the hills overlooking the stadium, in an attempt to appease the rain god.