Men’s ODI World Cup: Cricket fans struggle for tickets to non-India matches

When the much-delayed sale of non-India tickets started on August 24–25, grabbing those seats became quite the battle for would-be spectators

Team Sri Lanka celebrates after qualifiying for the ICC Men’s World Cup in India, after its Super 6 match against the West Indies at Harare Sports Club, Zimbabwe, on 7 July 2023 (photo: Alex Davidson-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)
Team Sri Lanka celebrates after qualifiying for the ICC Men’s World Cup in India, after its Super 6 match against the West Indies at Harare Sports Club, Zimbabwe, on 7 July 2023 (photo: Alex Davidson-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)


Tickets for the non-Indian matches of the the 2023 World Cup came on sale quite late, starting at at 8 p.m. of August 24 for Mastercard users and August 25 for everyone else.

Leaving it to the eleventh hour didn’t make for a pleasant experience for many cricket fans eager to see the best of 50-over cricket at home in October–November.

Adding to their woes, BookMyShow—the official ticketing platform for the World Cup—crashed when the tickets were initially put up for sale at 8 p.m., after the previous timing of 6 p.m. was further postponed. 

Sanika Sawant, a Mumbai-based cricket fan, was trying to buy tickets for the England–South Africa match on 21 October in Wankhede Stadium, but didn’t succeed.

“I logged in around 7:45 p.m. as the sale of tickets was to start from 8 p.m. But till 8:30 p.m., it was showing 'coming soon'. After that, the sale started and I was able to get in. But they only showed tickets for the Sunil Gavaskar stand and when I tried to book, there were no seats available. I refreshed the page and it showed ‘sold out’,” she told IANS.

Sawant added that many members she knew from the North Stand Gang, a group of cricket fans in Mumbai and regular attendees of matches at Wankhede Stadium, faced the same issue as her. She feels a lack of clarity in the number of tickets on sale as well as which stands were being made available was the reason.

“I believe from the whole gang, only four or five people got the tickets for that game. There were many interested in watching this game and were keen to book tickets. Many people whom I spoke to said tickets weren’t open for the North Stand, only Sunil Gavaskar and Divecha stands were open (at) that time.”

“I think I will be seeing these World Cup matches from home — firstly due to the uncertainty over booking tickets and secondly, (because) prices are very high. Rs 1,000–2,000 tickets are for the Sunil Gavaskar stand, which is a side view stand. I mostly prefer to have a straight view, like from North stand or Sachin Tendulkar stand,” she added.

Vipul Yadav, a widely travelled sports fan, was trying to book tickets for three non-India matches in Mumbai, but couldn’t get a single one. 

“I was online on the website from 7:45 p.m. on Friday evening and at 8 p.m., tickets came. From there till 11:30 p.m., it was all tamasha,” Yadav said.

“I am not someone who’s restricted to watching only India games; I want to watch World Cup matches. If I get a World Cup semi-final ticket, it will be amazing. But this experience has been something which I can’t say in words,” he told IANS.

As an MBA student in 2011, Yadav had purchased his tickets for the World Cup quarter-final between India and Australia in Ahmedabad, held on 24 March, by 1 June 2010. He would go on to get tickets for the final between India and Sri Lanka at Wankhede Stadium via a lucky draw process.

This time, he was aghast to see not a single ticket released for the North Stand when he tried to book one in Mumbai, apart from the exorbitant pricing. 

“At (the) North Stand, where all regulars sit for the matches, only level 2 was open, priced at INR 10,000 for the South Africa–Bangladesh clash. Afterwards, for the Australia–Afghanistan game, only one block was open in Level 1,” Yadav said. “Generally, all regulars sit at level 3 as it gives a straight view and all the atmosphere is there too. It’s the biggest stand and not even one ticket was released."

"Right now," Yadav added, "I have very little interest in buying tickets, because you can’t make it so difficult for fans. It feels like an obstacle course and fans are asked to get past it to reach stadiums for watching matches.”

Just like Sawant, Yadav also expressed concern over only side view tickets being put up for sale: “For the New Zealand–South Africa game in Pune, there are no straight view tickets available, due to which people have bought side view tickets. Ideally, straight view tickets should be put on sale first and I can’t understand for whom they are being saved. Ideally, if I were to see a neutral match, I wouldn’t like to see it from the side view.”

Vinesh Prabhu, a passionate cricket fan based in Mumbai, had to refresh constantly for 30 minutes after tickets were put on sale to secure his Rs 2,000 tickets for the Australia–England match in Ahmedabad on 4 November.

But to his surprise, he saw that Rs 1,000 tickets were available later, which wasn’t the case when he was striving to buy tickets. Prabhu hopes to buy tickets for the India–Pakistan and India–Sri Lanka games as well as the semi-finals and final, but wants more transparency in the process.

“When I got through the app," Prabhu said, "only Rs 2,000–3,000 tickets were available. I saw the cheaper option, which fit the budget too, and booked one ticket for Rs 2,000 immediately."

"My second priority was to book England–South Africa tickets at Wankhede, and I tried booking one ticket worth 2,500 rupees in an upper stand,” he added, “But as soon as I clicked it, it was sold out. I later checked in to see the demand for tickets for games in Ahmedabad and saw that for the England–Australia game, Rs 1,000 tickets were available too, which weren't seen initially.”

“When one has to book tickets in a very quick time, you go for it. But on seeing that, I felt like I could have saved Rs 1,000 if I had known this earlier and hadn’t missed out on buying an England–South Africa match ticket too,” he said.

From August 29 till September 3, the sale of tickets for India matches will happen online. Yadav hopes the issues which he and many fans faced during the ticketing process for the non-India games in the last few days will be solved, for the sake of people wishing to watch matches in the stadium.  

“If I log in for tickets at 8 p.m., I should be done with it by 8:15 p.m," said Yadav. "It shouldn’t be like you are sitting in front of it for three hours and calling various people to know what’s happening. It’s not worth the amount of hassle, and before the BookMyShow site crashes, I should at least be able to see the stands for buying tickets.”

“Also, what are you trying to prove by selling side view tickets only? Many like me know how it feels to watch matches in a stadium. But if a first-time fan comes to see these games from a side view, how it would feel to him/her? They may even question coming to a stadium to watch a live match,” he continued.

“I will be going to Paris to watch the Olympics, which is happening in July–August next year," Yadav added. "I got the tickets for it in February–March this year. This is the way to treat a global event like a global event.”

“You get to host a World Cup once in 12 years and things like these shouldn’t be happening," he said. "Watching a World Cup match in a stadium can be someone’s memory for a lifetime and people here get very little chance to experience that.”

Sawant, too, agrees: “There will be lots of issues when India match tickets will be put on sale. Plus, there wasn’t much clarity on whether ticket selling process would be done phase-wise. I did see accounts of similar experiences on Twitter (now X) and in coming days, more such instances will come out.”

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