Sans spectators and stars, Preity Zinta plays lonely host

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Mohali (Punjab), April 19 (IANS) Preity Zinta, Bollywood star and now one of the four co-owners of the Mohali team of the Indian Premier League (IPL), was a lonely host at her squad's first tie Saturday evening with the stadium here virtually without any stars or many spectators.

The over-35,000-capacity Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) stadium had some stands virtually empty, particularly those with expensive tickets.

The pavilion terrace block, which is overcrowded during any international match, was almost empty. Only a few people sat in the Rs.3,000 per ticket block.

Out of the few thousand spectators, most were in the students' block, where each ticket cost Rs.50, the general block (Rs.250) and another block with tickets costing Rs.750.

"The empty stands have more to do with the free pass culture in Chandigarh and Punjab, particularly among VIPs and their families. With not many free passes being given by the IPL, people did not turn up," a member of the PCA organising committee told IANS.

Zinta herself could be seen cheering her Mohali team led by Yuvraj Singh as they took on the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings.

She did not have any stars to back her - unlike Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who had lined up several friends from filmdom at Bangalore to support his Kolkata team that trounced the Bangalore Royal Challengers in the tournament opener Friday.

PCA sources said Zinta had sent invites to several co-stars and VIPs but not many turned up.

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