Kerala sports minister's four reasons for poor turnout at India-Sri Lanka ODI, hunger isn't one

India's Shubman Gill plays a shot against Sri Lanka with empty seats behind him during the third ODI at Greenfield International Stadium, in Thiruvananthapuram on January 15, 2023. Photo: PTI

In an attempt to downplay his controversial remarks over ticket rates that allegedly led to a poor turnout at the India-Sri Lanka ODI at Karyavattom, Kerala's Sports Minister V Abdurahiman has fanned more trouble for himself.

India crushed Sri Lanka by a record 317 runs in Sunday's ODI, the final one of a three-match series that was played at the Greenfield Stadium at Karyavattom in the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram. The poor turnout at the venue dampened an otherwise historic occasion, with former international Yuvraj Singh wondering if 'one day cricket was dying?'

Fingers were soon pointed at Minister Abdurahiman for a statement he made last week on a query over the high ticket rates for the match. The minister had said that 'those who suffer from hunger need not watch the match'. The Kerala Cricket Association accused the minister of upsetting the fans with his remarks.

But Abdurahiman on Monday came up with a lengthy social media response, in a bid to clear his name. In the minister's view, the allegations against him and his government are a conspiracy. The real reasons are something else.

The four reasons for poor turnout
Minister Abdurahiman listed out at least four reasons for cricket fans staying away from an ODI in Kerala after a gap of five years.

Communication gap or snub? Agitating sportspersons claim Minister Abdurahiman didn't show up for talks

“The main reason for the poor turnout is the inefficiency of the organisers,” Abdurahiman said. He said the government's role was limited to facilitating the event. “The matches of the Indian cricket team are managed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the ticket rates are decided by the respective state associations. That means the government has no role in hosting the matches or ticketing,” he said.

But the other two reasons go beyond the purview of the state association.

“The match was the final one in a three-match series and after India won the first two, this one became inconsequential. That lowered the interest of fans,” said Abdurahiman.

He did not stop there and listed a third reason: “Sri Lanka is ranked 8th in the world. The once-world champions do not have even a single famous player now and because of that it is not quite popular. The Karyavattom match result once again proved the quality of that team. A poor opposition is also a reason for the poor turnout.”

Finally, as always is the case in cricket, bad weather takes a share of the blame. And so, Abdurahiman jotted: “The hot and humid weather was another reason.”

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