Spectators are flocking to the second cricket Test of the high-profile India-South Africa series with organisers facing huge demand of tickets even as the weather forecast predicted rain in the lead-up, raising concerns of a Centurion-like pitch.
Over 50,000 tickets have been sold for the second Test, starting at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead in Durban on December 26, as fans rush to be part of the action between the world's two top-ranked sides.
But rain fears are giving sleepless nights to the groundstaff. According to KwaZulu Natal Cricket Union CEO Jesse Chellan, there has been increased interest in this year's Boxing Day Test compared to previous years, and he is looking forward to a bumper match.
"There has definitely been more interest in this match and pre-sales have been very encouraging. We have been working closely with Cricket South Africa and Castle Lager to ensure a family friendly environment that appeals to a wide spectrum of fans. We are excited about hosting the two top Test sides in the world," he said.
Cricket South Africa CEO Gerald Majola said, "Test match cricket is the purest form of the game and CSA is delighted at the response from cricket fans. The first Castle Test match was a brilliant advert for Test cricket and we look forward to another enthralling encounter in Durban.
"Ticket prices have been pegged to suit all pockets, including those who want to include the whole family. This is a great chance to witness a once-in-a lifetime Test and full houses will help the Proteas' no end to continue their winning ways."
Ticket prices for the Castle Test series range from Rand 20-80 per day. The ticket holders can also take part in prize-winning competitions, besides getting other special offers.
Amid all this excitement, the groundstaff, however, remains a worried lot because if there is little sunshine in the run-up to the match, the pitch could turn out to be similar to the one at Centurion in the first Test with toss playing a big role in the outcome of the tie.
Though there was no rain today and the sun came out, the forecast is for light rain on Friday and Saturday and heavy showers on Sunday, the first day of the match.
The track looks green and rock solid, but if it does not get enough sun, chief groundsman Wilson Ngobese fears the toss will become a major factor because of the moisture retained by the covered pitch.
And there has been only two days of fair weather until now -- yesterday and today have been the only dry days over the last week. Even yesterday was overcast, though it didn't rain.
"I want to give a wicket that is fair for everybody. I am hoping for more sunny days but it could be more rain in the lead-up to the match. Still, it should help the bowlers with good bounce," Ngobese said on Wednesday.