ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 kicked off with England facing New Zealand in the inaugural match at the Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad.
Despite no opening ceremony, the hype around the tournament has been massive but the response on the ground was subdued as many chairs remained empty at the world’s biggest cricket stadium.
The Narendra Modi Stadium has a capacity of One lakh thirty-two thousand, making it the largest cricket ground in the world.
Fans were left bemused as England’s Jonny Bairstow faced the opening ball of the World Cup against New Zealand’s Trent Boult in front of a glaringly-small crowd.
One wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter wrote, “when was the last time a cricket world cup opened with…empty stands?”
Another said, “First game of the World Cup and no one there to watch. This is why Wankhede should be hosting more non India matches. Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore etc loves Cricket not just Indian Cricket. We all know why Ahmedabad getting so many matches. #CWC2023”
A third posted, “Liftoff in the Cricket World Cup – shame about all the empty seats”
Another fan said, “World Cup opening match and the stadium is empty. This is such a disappointment. #CricketWorldCup2023”
Hosts India begin their World Cup campaign in a mouth-watering match against Australia on Sunday – and the Chepauk Stadium in Chennai will no doubt be full.
However, the ICC and BCCI have struggled to shift tickets for any match that does not feature India.
Why the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad looks so empty
Reportedly, the tickets went unsold for the first match and the organisers offered free tickets to roughly 30,000 to 40,000 women from Ahmedabad along with free vouchers for tea and lunch.
Lalit Wadhawan, the BJP vice-president of the Bodakdev neighborhood said to the Indian Express that this drive was inspired by the Women’s Reservation Bill in Parliament.
“Around 30,000 to 40,000 women from Ahmedabad will be watching the game in the stadium tomorrow. Our volunteers have been asked to send the names and the tickets were handed to them today. These women will be reaching the stadium on their own and will be given tea and food coupons,” Wadhawan was quoted as saying.