AFG vs WI: Unmemorable return to Test cricket for Lucknow

Lucknow has hosted a Test after 25 years, but with low attendances and no live broadcast, the contest has hardly taken anyone's notice.

The match is being played in front of empty stands. Photo: AFP

The last time Lucknow hosted a Test match, internet was an alien term, T20 cricket hadn't been dreamt of and most of the current players of the Afghanistan team were not even born!

For cricket enthusiasts, however, the memories of that contest between India and Sri Lanka in 1994 are still fresh. The centuries by Navjot Singh Sidhu and Sachin Tendulkar are often talked about by former cricketers and experts.

As Test cricket returned to this part of the country after 25 years in the form of a one-off Test between Afghanistan and West Indies, one hoped cricket enthusiasts of the city would turn up to watch the new ‘home team’ in action.

No buzz

The fact that a large crowd had turned up for the limited-overs series, which preceded the Test, was considered an encouraging sign. But two days into the Test match and the picture looks quite grim.

AFG vs WI | DAY ONE REPORT

The picturesque Ekana International Stadium can accommodate 50,000 spectators. But with less than 100 fans turning up, the stands have been empty for the first two days. Even though the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) set up a ticket counter on the front gate of the stadium, there hasn’t been much demand. “It is difficult to expect [a] crowd if you are having matches on weekdays, that too when two neutral teams are playing, the excitement is even lesser,” one of the local officials looking after the arrangement said.

No live broadcast

Cricketers from both teams have ensured there is enough competitiveness, but the lack of fan support has taken the sheen out of the fixture. To add to the woes, there is no live broadcast of the match in India. While it was streamed live on YouTube on the first day, the link was inaccessible on the second day, which meant there was practically no way to watch it live.

Read | Batting all-rounder the right label for me, insists Cornwall

Though a particular app was streaming the cricket, there were technical glitches every now and then.

And that’s not all. Players suffered as the Decision Review System (DRS) was not made available. At a time when the International Cricket Council is taking initiatives to market Test cricket better, such a scenario is certainly a setback for the longer format of the game.

  Dugout videos