The hopes of Khulna fans giving the Bangladesh Cricket League a rousing reception suffered a blow when very few people showed their interest in buying tickets for the matches of the tournament.
Just over a month ago the people of the city went mad during the Test and one-day series between Bangladesh and West Indies and the Bangladesh Cricket Board was hoping for a similar craze to lift the falling image of the tournament.
The BPL has been facing a fans drought ever since its stop-start opening ceremony in Dhaka, leaving the BCB and its BPL partners in an embarrassing position.
They were desperately looking for something for an image boost and Khulna was their best hope as the cricket crazy southern city was going to host the tournament for the first time.
Fans queued up from midnight for tickets during the West Indies series and several people were injured during the hustle-bustle in the morning when the sales started.
But it was a completely different scenario on Monday in front of two UCBL branches and Airtel outlets, where tickets were being sold as very few people turned up.
This happened despite the tournament organisers reducing the ticket prices to encourage more fans to go to the stadium.
The BCB on Sunday announced that the price of gallery tickets in the Khulna venue was reduced to Tk 200 from Tk 350, but due to a late night announcement, which many said was ridiculous, the message did not reach the fans.
Apart from high prices of tickets, officials cited few other reasons for poor response including the opening ceremony farce and the poor situation of the local team Khulna Royal Bengals.
‘I think the crowds are not very enthusiastic about BPL because of what they saw in Dhaka,’ Kazi Shamim Ahsan, general secretary of the Khulna District Sports Association.
There was lack of promotional activities as well but the blame for that put on the companies that took the responsibility rather than on us because we were supposed to ready the ground only,’ said Shamim, also member-secretary of the local organising committee for the BPL.
Some observers added that the tournament was hit by another blow when it was declared that prime minister Sheikh Hasina would visit the city on January 24, as most of the leading sports organisers are busy making her making public meeting at the Circuit House maidan successful.
The BPL organsiers were compelled to change the schedule of the match for the day, brining forward the Barisal Burners and Chittagong Kings game to 10: 00am.
KDSA secretary Shamim also held one-sided matches responsible for poor crowd response.
‘The differences in performance between teams were also exposed in the first few matches. People do not want to see a one-sided affair as it had happened in the Dhaka Gladiator matches,’ said Shamim.
Local Khulna Royals Bengals were subjected to some one-sided matches having lost their both matches already. They also lack any local and foreign superstars which also made fans indifferent about the tournament, said the officials.
‘I just finished the meeting with Active Services (ticketing agency of BPL) and they are quite confident that it won’t fare that badly, though they could not tell me the exact number of tickets they have sold,’ said Shamim.
-With New Age input