The first Group B match of the ICC Women's World Cup involving the Pakistan side witnessed a smooth beginning at the near-empty Barabati Stadium at Cuttack on Friday amid protests outside the stadium.
The Group B matches of the World Cup were shifted to Odisha after Maharashtra and Gujarat refused to host the games involving the Pakistani team in the backdrop of tensions at the LOC.
The Barabati had last hosted an ICC event 17 years back when when Kenya made their international debut against India in the 1996 World Cup.
"We are happy that Pakistani players came, stayed and played the first match without having any problem," an Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) functionary said even as Utkal Bharat, a local political outfit, staged a demonstration outside the stadium protesting against participation of Pakistani players.
About two dozen agitators were taken to custody and later released, a police officer said.
As Pakistan-Australia match began at Barabati stadium on Friday morning, Gallery No. 1 and 2 were opened for spectators on free entry. When the match began there were only a dozen spectators which gradually grew to a few hundreds.
The low turn out was mostly attributed to unprecedented security arrangement including restriction on taking even mobile phones and food packets inside the stadium.
"There is no point in opening gates for the public after putting so many restrictions," said an engineering student, who returned from the stadium gate.
First Published: February 1, 2013, 11:09 pm