The Hardik Patel-led Patidar agitation in Gujarat threatens to overshadow the 3rd ODI between India and South Africa in Rajkot that will be played on Sunday, as reports claim that about 1,000 tickets have been bought by members of the Patel community.
The Gujarati media have reported that more than 2,000 tickets were sold on Tuesday for the India-South Africa match in Rajkot, and half of those were scooped up by Patidars.
Earlier this month, Patel had threatened that the community will use the cricket match to highlight their issue to a 'global audience'. Some reports suggested that the Patidars had planned to buy as many as 10,000 seats in the 29,000-seater Rajkot stadium.
The threat prompted the Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) to make issuing of ID cards compulsory while buying tickets for the third ODI, a first for the body.
The authorities will also not allow spectators to carry any kind of banner and hoarding inside the stadium.
Hardik Patel, convenor of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), has led weeks of protests, often violent, across Gujarat demanding OBC quota for the Patidar community.
On Monday, several boys and girls assembled at the Rajkot stadium to make a 'prayer for peace' and to urge Hardik Patel to call off their plan to disrupt the India-South Africa match.
Patel reportedly assured that the Patidars will not disturb the ODI but will only 'raise awareness' about their demands.
"We shall use the match to make the world aware about our agitation. However, we shall not disturb the match in any manner," Patel said, according to The Indian Express.
Saurashtra Cricket Association members are concerned about the consequences if the Patels do manage to carry out their plan during the match.
"It is a very serious matter. If something happens, it will spoil the image of Rajkot and we will not get international matches in future," Niranjan Shah, an official of the Saurashtra Cricket Association, was quoted as saying.
However, Indian cricket fans and cricket board will have more to worry about than just the image of Rajkot if any incident is reported during the ODI, given that they were left red-faced after the Cuttack crowd turned unruly during the T20 match between India and South Africa.
Angry spectators hurled water bottles at the ground as India appeared to lost against south Africa, causing the match to be suspended for a while.
The incident was condemned by senior cricketers and citizens.