Muttiah Muralitharan criticizes Pakistan Cricket Board’s costly tickets for Asia Cup 2023

Cricket Asia Cup 2023 empty seats

Empty seats are pictured at the R. Premadasa Stadium before the start of the Asia Cup 2023 super four one-day international (ODI) cricket match between India and Pakistan in Colombo on September 10, 2023.

Muttiah Muralitharan believes Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is to be blamed for this fiasco due to the high ticket prices set by the board, who is the official host for the continental tournament.

An India vs. Pakistan fixture in front of empty stands is not something you can even think of. Still, the Asia Cup 2023 fixtures between the two arch-rivals in Sri Lanka have been played in front of near-empty stadiums. Former Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan believes PCB is to be blamed for this fiasco due to the high ticket prices set by the board, who is the official host for the continental tournament.

India’s reluctance to travel to Pakistan forced ACC (Asian Cricket Council) to opt for a hybrid model with four games in Pakistan and the remaining to be played in Sri Lanka. India are playing all their fixtures in Sri Lanka. However, the high ticket prices have meant that fans in Sri Lanka have not thronged the stadium despite India vs. Pakistan fixtures.

Muralitharan, in an exclusive conversation with News18, said, “It is the PCB who has decided the prices for these tickets as they are hosting the Asia Cup this year. Sri Lanka is currently going through a financial crisis. The ticket prices are really expensive and they were reduced at the last moment (just before the India vs. Pakistan match in Colombo) but it doesn’t work that way. The ticket prices start from Sri Lankan Rupees 6000 and upwards. If you want to watch the match from the grandstands it is 40000 to 50000 Sri Lankan Rupees which is equivalent to a person’s monthly salary. I don’t think anyone can afford that much money in Sri Lanka.”

The two teams were met with empty stadiums when they faced off in the Super Four of the 2023 Asia Cup on Sunday, September 10. To fill the empty stands, Sri Lanka Cricket shared that the revised ticket prices have been reduced to Rs 500 and Rs 1000 at the last minute, but that too didn’t attract many.

It was a similar sight when the two teams faced each other in their Asia Cup 2023 Group A match at the Pallekele Stadium as many seats were vacant.

Many fans expressed their shock on X (formerly known as Twitter) at empty stands in the India-Pakistan match, which is rare. Former Pakistani cricketer Mohammed Hafeez put up pictures of the empty stands and wrote, “Never witnessed such response from fans of cricket towards #PAKvIND game. #AsiaCup2023 @ACCMedia1 Empty stadium.”

Muralitharan feels that the audience wants to come and watch these matches but can’t afford the ticket price, “In Sri Lanka, whenever there are matches there is always a full house in the stadium. People want to come and watch these matches but they can’t afford such high-priced tickets. Even the Sri Lanka Vs Bangladesh game which happened on Saturday didn’t attract many people despite the home team being in action and doing well.”

The Sri Lankan great also points out the unpredictable weather which has been another deterrent for people to buy tickets, “The league match between India and Pakistan ended up in a tie (no result) because of the rains. Perhaps, it was because of the rain prediction that people don’t want to take a chance. Also, there was some confusion regarding the venue (from Colombo to Hambantota) of the Super 4 matches and the final. People will be apprehensive to come forward and buy tickets.”

(Source: News18)