Former Pakistan captains Wasim Akram and Shahid Afridi urged cricket fans to come to the stadium to watch the T20 series between Pakistan and West Indies after yet another disappointing turnout which was witnessed at the National Stadium in Karachi for the second international.
The evening game hardly had 4000 spectators in the 32,000 capacity stadium although the Pakistan Cricket Board has allowed full attendance after months of Covid-19 restrictions.
Akram was ‘incredibly sad’ to see an empty stadium.
“Incredibly sad to see an empty stadium in Karachi for the #PAKvWIt20 especially after the performance of Pakistan Team in the last month. I’m pretty sure I know why but I want to hear from you! Tell me, where is the crowd and why??" he tweeted.
“It is really disappointing to see such a low turnout of people for these matches. We were expecting a bigger turnout after reducing ticket prices to nearly half of the usual denominations," a PCB official said.
But while the turnout is disappointing there is no doubt that people faced many problems getting into the stadium.
In Pictures: Pakistan vs West Indies, 2nd T20I
“People say why don’t cricket fans come to the stadiums. But coming to a match is like an examination for us. We have to park our cars at a distance from the stadium and walk all the way and then wait in long queues to get in. It is discouraging for cricket fans," Bilal, an avid Pakistan Cricket fan said outside the stadium.
Bilal had come with a group of teenagers to watch the second match and Maham, one of the girls sporting a green Pakistan T-shirt had the same complaints.
“There is too much security and checking and it gets really tiring waiting for so long to just get into the enclosures," she said.
Interestingly, PCB chairman Ramiz Raja just last week in a video statement promised better facilities and experience for cricket fans coming to the grounds for international matches or the Pakistan Super League games.
Ramiz in fact announced the PCB would soon be opening a fans engagement department to facilitate the fans but apparently on Tuesday it was clear a lot of work still remains to be done to this end.
Security for the matches as always has been suffocating with hundreds of policemen, commandos and the paramilitary rangers posted outside and inside the NSK making the process of getting into the enclosures a lengthy one for spectators.
Residents who live around the stadium area have also complained about roads being closed bylanes being blocked with containers making life and commuting difficult for them.