WC 2003 - Big demand for tickets for live-wire final

Published: Saturday, March 22, 2003, 22:46 [IST]
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Johannesburg: Tickets for Sunday's World Cup final between Australia and India were being sold on the black market for $ 1,875 as thousands of fans made a last-minute scamble to watch the big game.In newspaper classifieds this week, one ticket was being sold for 15,000 Rand ($ 1,875) while there have been some odd requests in the run-up to the high-profile final at the Wanderers."Four guys from India came this week and offered to pay 1,000,000 Rand each ($ 125,000) for a suite taking about 34 people. They said money was no object but all 192 suites at the stadium are full and we had to turn them away," said Alan Kourie, the chief executive of Gauteng Cricket Board which runs the Wanderers.Most of the demand for tickets is from Indians, who have flown in not only from across South Africa to watch Sachin Tendulkar taking on the Australians but also from various parts of India.South African Airways and Air India laid on special flights to ferry the fans from India, many of them arriving without match tickets. Kourie said the "Bullring", as the 30,000-capacity Wanderers is known, would be at its "absolute fullest" on Sunday.Wanderers receptionist Wady Adams told the Star newspaper that the switchboard was still "absolute chaos" with people desperately searching for tickets which had been sold out two weeks ago.With Indian fans converging in large numbers, Johannesburg restaurants specialising in Indian food were doing brisk business. "We've never had it so good, but alas it is all coming to an end," said Manoj Vaid of the Bombay Blues restaurant in the Rosebank suburb of the city.Among the visitors for Sunday's final will be Indian Sports Minister Vikram Verma, accompanied by leading politicians like Arun Jaitley and Pramod Mahajan.Air India is sending a plane from its VIP fleet, normally reserved for the President and Prime Minister, to fly back the Indian team, irrespective whether it wins or loses."If the team wins, the plane will fly to New Delhi where a reception is planned with President Abdul Kalaam and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee," said Rajiv Shukla, an Indian cricket official and Member of Parliament."Otherwise Mumbai will be the first stop to drop players residing there before going to New Delhi." The cricket fever gripping this South African metropolis is in sharp contrast to the atmosphere two weeks ago when tickets for the Super Six matches were freely available after the hosts bowed out in the first round.There was so little interest in the tournament after South Africa was knocked out that the country's President Thabo Mbeki was forced to join World Cup organisers in appealing to local fans to continue supporting the tournament.Copyright AFP 2001

India, Australia gear up for heady showdown

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