India-Pakistan Cricket Match Sees Sky-High Resale Ticket Prices

Nikhil Wadhwani’s decision to buy a ticket for the hotly anticipated India versus Pakistan match at the men’s Cricket World Cup is turning out to be the former derivatives trader’s best bet ever.

(Bloomberg) — Nikhil Wadhwani’s decision to buy a ticket for the hotly anticipated India versus Pakistan match at the men’s Cricket World Cup is turning out to be the former derivatives trader’s best bet ever.

The 32-year-old Mumbai native, who now works at a fintech company, in August bought a 2,500 rupee ($30) ticket for Saturday’s match. After a change of plans, he decided to resell the ticket on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, scoring 22,000 rupees for it.

“I was absolutely shocked to see the demand,” said Wadhwani, who used to work on Nomura Holdings Inc.’s trading desk in India’s financial capital. “I got a flurry of messages with offers much larger than I expected.”

Wadhwani’s experience is indicative of the excitement over the match-up between the two political and sporting foes during the World Cup, which India is hosting again after 12 years. When the two sides meet in Ahmedabad’s massive Narendra Modi Stadium, renamed two years ago after the country’s sitting prime minister, it will be the first time in seven years that Pakistan plays on Indian soil. 

The sport is among the last remaining exchanges between the neighboring nations, whose relationship has always been confrontational, but worsened further since India’s launched cross-border strikes in 2019 following attacks in the disputed region of Kashmir by Pakistan-based militants. 

Actors from Pakistan are also prohibited from India’s Bollywood movies, and its cricketers cannot play in the top-flight Indian Premier League. The match is a rare moment for fans to see Pakistan players in the flesh, though the team and fans have faced delays in being issued Indian visas.

“These matches don’t happen often enough,” said Aditya Chidurala, a San Francisco-based tech worker who secured tickets to at least five games, including the India-Pakistan clash. “They are arch-rivals and fans are super passionate about it.”

Some desperate fans splurged on what they thought were last-minute tickets, only later to find that the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the sport’s governing body in the country, had been withholding tickets. It announced the sale of an unspecified amount of tickets on Wednesday and on Sunday offered 14,000 passes. 

One of these fans was Perumandla Vamshi Krishna from Telangana, who bought two tickets in September for about 170,000 rupees off a secondary ticketing platform, after the official one showed that the game was sold out. The newly offered Sunday tickets were selling for 1% of what the 28-year-old paid. 

The fiasco has adding to broader complaints about the ticketing process for the World Cup. Seats for the India-Afghanistan match on Wednesday went on sale just a day before, and those for India’s opening game on Saturday against Australia were made available once again in a last-minute sale that morning. 

Meanwhile, the official ticketing website still says that tickets for future India matches that haven’t yet been made available are “coming soon.”

“It reflects poorly on the overall management of the tournament,” said Neeraj Kumar, a former police chief and head of the anti-corruption unit of India’s cricketing body. “The sale should have been done in a timely manner.” The BCCI didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Some fans, however, say they enjoy the chase for tickets and that the last-minute sales have boosted their chances.

“We now have multiple chances to view these matches,” said Kartik Kannan, a Bengaluru-based product manager who runs a WhatsApp group for fans called “Team India’s 12th Man Army,” a reference to the cricketing term used for a reserve player.

The lack of transparency over ticket sales, however, means cricket devotees have to go the extra length to stay on top of the process. Chidurala in San Francisco had asked his friends in India to wake him up at any hour as soon as they see tickets go on sale. 

“It is serious business,” Chidurala said. 

–With assistance from Faseeh Mangi.

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