South Africa vs Sri Lanka: Delhi’s World Cup opener not a hot property

- October 6, 2023
| By : Khurram Habib |

The first match of World Cup in Delhi is not yet sold out. South Africa start favourites against Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan team at practice

Less than 24 hours before the 2023 ODI World Cup’s first match, between South Africa and Sri Lanka, takes place at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in the Capital, the staff at the stadium is hard at work in providing the finishing touches.

The stadium is decked up in ICC World Cup colours, hoardings while the outfield of the Ferozeshah Kotla ground is painted with names of the sponsors.

All this is not just for the TV viewers but also for fans who are expected to turn up at the stadium in numbers.

In any other age, on any other day, there would have been clamour for tickets and passes in Delhi for a World Cup ODI.

But so poor has been the response despite this being a World Cup – the inaugural match in Ahmedabad on Thursday saw less than 50% turnout officially and the second game in Hyderabad between Pakistan and Netherlands was also devoid of crowd – that tickets in all the categories are available at the time of publishing this article.

The ground is being readied

The tickets begin at 750 rupees and in this range there is space available in two stands.

Tickets are also available in Rs 1000, 1500, 2500, 5000, 6500, 12000, 15000 and 18000 categories.

South Africa favourites

The focus of the match will be on South Africa and whether they can start the tournament well.

The Proteas failed to qualify for the semi-finals in 2019, finishing even below Sri Lanka. In previous editions they have let slip opportunities of making the final (1999 and 2015) and once (in 1992) were even denied by a rain rule that has since been abolished.

Losing from winning position isn’t an oddity for them. They have, therefore, been termed as chokers.

But they are coming into the tournament with an impressive series win over Australia in the format. They lost the first two games of the home series but then came back to win three in a row with a margin of over 100 runs.

South Africa skipper Temba Bavuma admitted that he has used the term chokers a couple of times in the dressing room mainly just to accept it and move on.

“I have used that a couple of times. But you don’t really hear coming from the team. I bring it up to just make sure that we are not kind of squirting around the issue. If there is some issue, you will have to deal with it and mentally make sure how you are going to deal with it,” Bavuma told the media ahead of the match.

“But again, it is just that acceptance that it will always be within the team, within the group, the guys who will have to come don’t experience that.”

Their opponents Sri Lanka are coming off a miserable final in the Asia Cup, where they were bowled out for 50 to lose by 10 wickets to India.

The Sri Lankans also lost their warm-up matches, to Asian teams Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

The stadium is also likely to see the opening of a new members’ restaurant on the fourth floor prior to the game. There have been talks that it will be named after Anil Kumble’s haul of 10 for 74 against Pakistan in 1999. However, the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) is yet to confirm it.