ABU DHABI: The Abu Dhabi Council on Friday announced free entry into Sheikh Zayed Stadium at the eleventh hour of the first Test cricket match’s second day.
After officials from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in Abu Dhabi discussed with their local counterparts the low interest of cricket lovers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it was finally decided that the rest of three days will be free for sports enthusiasts.
The decision comes after Abu Dhabi cricket officials requested the PCB to do so given that fewer than 1,000 spectators came to witness the game during the first and second days of the Test.
On the second day too, entry was made free almost an hour before the game ended in order to attract a higher number of fans to Sheikh Zaid Stadium.
Shahnawaz Hakim — the manager of operations at Abu Dhabi Cricket — told Geo.tv here that almost 150 people bought tickets for the first day of Pakistan-Sri Lanka Test match, while around 800 tickets were purchased on the second day.
Considering how difficult it is to “attract cricket fans during the Test matches nowadays, I believe that it’s quite a good move that will attract cricket fans — especially blue-colour Pakistanis workers living in the Emirates,” Hakeem explained.
On the second day, almost 100 Sri Lankan cricket fans witnessed the action at Sheikh Zayed Stadium, raising their national flag and dancing to the beat of the drum.
Authorities say that the heat and the absence of star cricketers have led to people’s disinterest in the Test. They now hope that the free entry will boost audience numbers on the remaining days.