ABU DHABI // He had waited longer than a stonewall innings from Geoffrey Boycott, but in the end it was worth it.
A spontaneous round of applause broke out at the front of the queue in the Lulu supermarket in Al Wahda Mall when Natarajan Suresh was handed his tickets for the feast of cricket that is the Indian Premier League.
Mr Suresh, 43, a Super Kings fan from Chennai who has lived here for 15 years, examined his seven tickets and showed them to everyone around him. “This is the first time I get to see them here, so I’m excited,” he said.
Fans had begun queuing long before ticket sales were due to begin at 10am. Even a further delay of about 20 minutes failed to dampen spirits.
Nikita Seth, 17, a Bahraini-born Indian expatriate, didn’t care how long it took to buy tickets, as long as she got them.
“We’ll wait until whenever we get them,” she said. “I’m a really, really big fan and this is the first time it happens in Abu Dhabi in seven years, so I’m really excited.”
Fans waiting in the queue were asked to complete a form detailing which games they wanted tickets for, with a maximum of 10 per match. By 11.30am, patience was starting to wear thin as only three people had walked away with tickets.
One cash register was inadequate to deal with the numbers, said Nizel Souza, 26. “They should have had more cashiers.”
This was Mr Souza’s third visit to the IPL kiosk. He came on Sunday and was told to return at 8am on Monday. Then, when he turned up for a second time, he was turned away once more and advised to come at 10.30am.
Although slightly irritated, Mr Souza was resigned to the situation.
“It’s no problem, waiting,” he said. “And if I don’t get the tickets, it’s OK. We can go home to watch. I’m not that desperate to watch the match – I can watch it at home.”
Yasmin Iyub, 30, another Chennai Super Kings fan, was among the first to reach the ticket kiosk. In the end her husband was able to purchase tickets online as she was waiting for the kiosk to open, sparing Mrs Iyub a long wait in the queue.
“Now I don’t have to stand in line for an hour,” she said.
Sales for the matches have been “blooming,” said an employee with Globuzz, the company managing ticket sales.
“And it’s going to pick up because the day has just started,” he said. “Wait until after work tonight, it’s going to be very busy.”
Tickets were available until 10pm from kiosks at Lulu hypermarkets in Al Wahda Mall, Khalidiya Mall, Mushrif Mall, Madinat Zayed, Capital Mall, Al Raha Mall and Mazyad Centre in Abu Dhabi; Al Barsha, Al Qusais, Al Karama and Arabian Centre in Dubai; and at Al Wahda, Al Nahda and Mai Saloon in Sharjah.
They were are also being sold at Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Other stadium box-office sales start on Thursday.
In Abu Dhabi, ticket prices start at Dh20 for a single match and Dh30 for a double-header. In Dubai, a ticket for one match starts at Dh30, and Dh50 for double-headers. In Sharjah, tickets will start at Dh30 for a single match, and Dh40 for the double-headers.
Tickets are also available online at iplt20.com and ticketmaster.ae.
The tournament will feature eight teams with some of the world's best cricket players competing in 20 games in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. Defending champions Mumbai Indians will play the opening game on April 16 when they take on the Kolkata Knight Riders at Zayed Cricket Stadium.