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As World Cup 2023 opens to empty stands, Sehwag comes up with ‘free tickets’ advice

Former Indian opener Virender Sehwag raising his bat during a cricket match in this undated image. — AFP/File

The much-awaited International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 on Thursday opened at the world’s biggest stadium in India’s Ahmedabad but the empty stands were a shocking sight for everyone.

The netizens trolled India for failing to attract spectators at the Narendra Modi Stadium. Among those who reacted was India’s own veteran cricketer Virender Sehwag, who came up with an idea to lure the fans to the stadium.

The former Indian opener suggested that the World Cup 2023 organisers should give free tickets to school and college students for matches not featuring India.

Taking to Twitter, Sehwag said that better access for youngsters can boost their interest in the sport as the popularity of one-day-internationals currently staggers.

“Hopefully after office hours, there should be more people coming in. But for games not featuring Bharat, there should be free tickets for school and college children. With the fading interest in 50 over game, it will definitely help that youngsters get to experience a World Cup game and players get to play in fron[t] of a full stadium.” the ex-cricketer wrote on microblogging site X. 

The clash, at the world’s biggest cricket stadium in the Indian city of Ahmedabad, is a rematch of the epic 2019 final when England won a tied game on boundary countback.

New Zealand won the toss and put defending champions England in to bat in the World Cup opener on Thursday with the English missing their talisman Ben Stokes due to a hip injury.

The Englishmen handed a solid 283-run target to the Black Caps.

Tom Latham leads New Zealand, who will be without regular captain Kane Williamson and pace bowler Tim Southee, both recovering from injuries.

Fast bowler Lockie Ferguson is also out due to a niggle.

— Additional input from AFP

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