Abu Dhabi: Any fears over crowd turnout for phase one of the Indian Premier League in the UAE were put to rest in the first hour of ticket sales on Thursday.
Around 20,000 tickets were sold within an hour, officials said.
By the end of the day, Gulf News learnt that most of the premium and higher-prized tickets were either sold out or on the verge of being sold.
Though it was announced earlier that one could buy tickets from the website Ticketmaster.ae from Thursday noon, many cricket enthusiasts managed to pocket tickets on Wednesday night by trying their luck on www.iplt20.com.
“I just went online on iplt20.com at around 11-11.30 on Wednesday night to check if I could buy tickets and, to my surprise, that link took me to Ticketmaster.ae where the link was open,” said one fan, Arun Kumar.
“I immediately tipped off some of my friends and they also booked their tickets. They tried logging on directly to Ticketmaster.ae ,but it wasn’t active. However, through the link in the official IPL website, one could buy them,” added Kumar.
The demand, as of now, is more for the blockbuster Mumbai Indians (MI) versus Chennai Super Kings (CSK) match to be held on April 25 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
The higher prized tickets, Platinum (Dh250), Red Premium West and East (Dh150) along with the Dh80 Purple, are already sold out.
Even the coveted tickets for the opener at the Shaikh Zayed Cricket Stadium for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and MI are selling like hot cakes. South Premium East tickets worth Dh300 and South Panoramic East and West tickets for Dh125 are already sold out.
The premium tickets for the April 18 double-header — CSK vs Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) and SunRisers Hyderabad vs Rajasthan Royals — are seeing similar sales. There is even heavy demand for the April 29 match between KKR and Rajasthan Royal (RR), with the availability only showing on lower and medium-priced tickets.
The Dubai double-header on the April 19 between Royal Challengers (RCB) vs MI and KKR vs Delhi Daredevils has also seen high demand.
The ticket sales at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, however, are yet to pick up pace, though they have some good contests like the Delhi Daredevils (DD) vs MI on April 27.
“I managed to get six tickets in one go, then again managed to buy another six more tickets on the same credit card for my friends. That means one person can buy ample tickets, but at one go only six,” revealed Kalpana Bharghav, a hardcore CSK fan.
General Manager of Sports Business, Dubai Sport City, Macky Dudhia was thrilled after seeing fans’ response, saying: “It’s an exhilarating experience and we are not surprised. From the time it was announced that the UAE would be hosting the matches, we have been getting enquiries for the tickets. My mobile has not stopped ringing. It is hectic for all of us but we are very happy with the way fans have responded.”
There were even reports of the ticket website not responding due to heavy traffic.
“I tried for the RCB vs MI match on April 19 in Dubai, the website was slow and was not responding at all. I tried several times between 12-3pm and sometimes it showed technical error,” said Tushar Raut, Business Development Manager.
Chief Executive of Emirates Cricket Board and Abu Dhabi Cricket Club, David East, was also thrilled with the response, saying: “Yes, there has been a tremendous demand for tickets from the cricket lovers; that’s what we hear. It is really pleasing. People know that the Indian Premier League is a sporting spectacle that UAE have got and they want to be a part of it. We had no doubts that people would love to come out and watch and they have shown that with this response today.”