A Tehelka SIT report reveals how ticket touts are making a killing by selling complimentary passes for a price during the on-going 2023 Cricket World Cup.
“These are complimentary passes. I got them after paying money, and I’m now selling them for a profit of Rs 2,000 each. I had 10 tickets in total for the India-New Zealand match in Dharamsala on October 22nd, and I’ve sold six of them so far. I am now left with four passes”. This is Pankaj Verma for you, a ticket tout selling ICC complimentary passes of India-New Zealand cricket match of 22nd October at Dharamsala, in the ongoing cricket World Cup in India.
Pankaj quoted Rs 15,000 each for four complimentary passes for the India-New Zealand match in Dharamsala, totaling Rs 60,000 for four free passes. When our reporter confronted him about the fact that the passes were free, he offered a discount of 2,000 rupees on one pass. As a result, the price came down to Rs 13,000. Pankaj insisted that our reporter buy the other passes as well, but he refused. He was there not to see the match, but to expose the corruption of free passes in the ongoing cricket world cup!
Before leaving, Pankaj told Tehelka reporter that he could try to arrange free passes for other matches, at a rate of Rs 12,000 per ICC complimentary pass. This is a discount of Rs 1,000 from the pass we have already purchased from him
Before the start of the 2023 Cricket World Cup in India, cricket fans were miffed by the staggered way the tickets went on sale for the general public. The ticket sale began on August 25, just 41 days before the opening match. Also, the ticket booking process was far from hassle-free. Fans had to first register to book tickets and then wait for hoursbefore even having an opportunity to make a purchase. Unfortunately, for many fans, that coveted chance never materialized.
Gaurav Shukla, a cricket fan in New Delhi, had booked a flight for October 15 to attend the India-Pakistan match in Ahmedabad but was forced to cancel it after the fixture was rescheduled. The 42 years-old made a fresh travel booking for the new date, but even that went in vain as he failed to get his hands on the match ticket for rescheduled date
“The mismanagement has been rampant,” Shukla told Tehelka reporter. “Several people had already booked their travel, but couldn’t get hold of match tickets.” A newspaper report said cricket fans had purchased tickets for the marquee India-Pakistan encounter on October 14th for Rs 35,000 in the black market, with some even made to cough up Rs 60,000. Some media reports also raked up the issue of black marketing of Cricket World Cup tickets.
Surprisingly, despite the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) selling all tickets online, stadiums have remained empty during the world cup matches. This suggests that black marketeers bought up tickets online and were now selling them at inflated prices. One wonders if this is why crowds are staying away from matches?
After reports emerged about the black marketing of Cricket World Cup tickets, Tehelka decided to investigate the matter. As we embarked upon the mission, we ran into a ticket tout named Pankaj Verma, who was selling ICC complimentary passes, which otherwise were free of cost. When our reporters contacted him, he told them that he had had 10 complimentary passes for the India-New Zealand match to be played in Dharamsala on October 22nd, six of which he had already sold. He offered to sell the remaining four to us for Rs 15,000 per pass. Over the phone, Pankaj admitted that he had intentionally hidden the “Complimentary ICC” text on the passes in the picture he had sent us on WhatsApp. He told our reporters that he would let them know in 15 minutes when and where to meet to swap the passes for money.
Pankaj- Aapko ticket kitni chahiye?
Reporter- Filhaal ek hi chahiye baki mein bata dunga ek-do din mein.
Pankaj- Chahiye hongi aapko aur.. kyunki mere pass 10 thi.. Ab 4 bachi hain..
Reporter- Sari Dharamsala ki.?
Reporter- Ye complimentary passes hain na?
Pankaj- Ye wale complimentary hain.
Reporter- Is par likha nahi hai complimentary.. isliye maine kaha.
Pankaj – Nahi likha hua hai maine usko hide kar diya. Likha hua hai complimentary. Number wagaira sab hai.. Maine bhi attend kiye hain 2 matches..
Reporter- Accha 2 match aap bhi dekh chuke hain..?
Pankaj- Haan main dekh chuka hoon
Pankaj- Ek Delhi ka dekha tha aur ek abhi mein Ahmedabad gaya tha.
Reporter- Ahmedabad ka to kal hi hua tha Pakistan ke saath.
Pankaj- Haan kal hi hua tha.
Reporter- Delhi ka nahi hai koi aapke pas?
Pankaj – Delhi ka koi aayega to mein bataunga.. Delhi mein koi hai kya.. I think.
Reporter- India ka nahi hai.. Aaj bhi match hai waise.. lekin India ka nahi hai.
Pankaj- Haan India ka nahi hai. Afghanistan-India ka tha.
Reporter- Aaj bhi ek match hai .
Pankaj- Haan hoga.. To mein aapko batata hoon.. 10-15 min mein batata hoon.
[After Tehelka launched an investigation into the reports of ticket black marketing during the Cricket World Cup, agent Pankaj Verma was found selling ICC complimentary passes for a fee. He offered four passes for the India-New Zealand match at Rs 15,000 each. A meeting to exchange passes for money was scheduled within 15 minutes.]
After a 15-minute wait, Pankaj contacted the reporter, arranging a meeting in front of Hotel Mayur. Upon arrival, Pankaj disclosed that he possessed only two of the original four complimentary passes and offered to sell them for Rs 30,000 rupees. When asked to give discount, Pankaj mentioned that similar passes were currently being sold for Rs 28,000 to 29,000.]
Reporter- Filhaal 6 pass hain aapke pass?
Pankaj- 2 hi 2 bache hain..
Reporter- 4 bata rahe they na aap.?
Pankaj- 2 kisi ne le liye…
Reporter- Ye to complimentary hai sir..?
Pankaj- Haan complimentary hain..
Reporter- Koi discount nahi dilwaye.?.
Pankaj- Ye already 28-29 thousand ka hai..
[Pankaj met the reporter at Hotel Mayur, informing that he was left with two of four complimentary passes he had earlier and proposed Rs 30,000 as price. He cited market rates at Rs 28,000 to 29,000 when questioned about a discount.]
Pankaj then told us that he had complimentary passes for the India-New Zealand match to be played on October 22 in Dharamsala. When asked if more passes were available, Pankaj said he would let us know.
Reporter-To ab jo remaining pass hain Dharamsala ke wo India –New Zealand ke hain na…?
Reporter- Kitne pass hain ?
Pankaj- Main aapko check karke batata hoon
Reporter- Kyunki maine 2-3 logon se bola hua hai..agar wo interested hongey ?
Pankaj- Aap mujhe bata dena
Reporter- I will let u know.. 4-5 pass ki zaroorat ho to ho jayega?
Pankaj- Aap mujhe bata dena ho jayega.
[Pankaj offered the reporter complimentary passes for the India-New Zealand match on October 22 in Dharamsala, promising to follow up on whether more were available.]
Pankaj told us that the match for which he has passes is slated to be held on Sunday, October 22. He also asked which future match passes featuring India we would like from him, such as those to be held in Delhi, Chennai etc.
Reporter- Kab ka ticket hai ye next Sunday ?
Pankaj- Aaj to 15 ho gayi ..ye next Sunday ka hai.
Reporter- Delhi ka nahi hai koi.. Delhi mein match hai ya nahi ye nahi pata magar India ka koi nahi hai…?
Pankaj- India ka.. I doubt India ka match hai.. but India ka I think idhar aayega…chennai mein.. shayad Kolkata mein hai…mein aapko check karke batata hoon…
Reporter- Aapko complimentary pass kahin k bhi miley bata dena..
[Pankaj said that the passes for the match he was in possession would be held on October 22 even as he inquired what other future India matches we are interested in.]
When we asked Pankaj for a discount on the complimentary passes, he said that he too had purchased them. However, he eventually agreed to sell them to us for Rs 14,000, offering us a Rs 1,000 discount.
Reporter- Discount mang rahe hain Pankaj bhai se..
Pankaj- Nahi nahi mainey bhi purchase karey hain…
Reporter- Kitna karwa de.?
Pankaj- 14 karwa dijiye
Reporter- Dekh lo aap…(counts money)
[Pankaj initially refused to discount the complimentary passes, but eventually agreed to sell them for Rs 14,000.]
Pankaj told us that he didn’t get the complimentary passes for free. He claimed that he too had bought them and was now selling them for a premium of Rs 2,000. In the end, he sold us the passes for Rs 13,000.
Pankaj- 12 hazar ho gaye…aur de dijiye..?
Reporter- Aur doon 1 aur…13 hazar ho gaye..
Reporter- Waise bhi complimentary hai aapko free pada hoga sir…?
Pankaj- Free kahan padta hai sir..mushkil ho jata hai..
Reporter- Aap bhi purchase karke laye hain..
Pankaj- Kuch margin rakh kar ke
Reporter- Aapka kitna profit hai..
Pankaj- Rs 2000
Reporter- Delhi ka pankaj bhai bata dijiyega ?
Pankaj- Mein aapko kal bata dunga..
Reporter- Delhi k alawa kahin k bhi ho magar ho complimentary. 13 hazar ho gaye ab..
[Pankaj, who claimed to have bought complimentary passes, finally agreed to sell it for Rs 13,000.]
Before leaving, Pankaj offered us three more passes of India-New Zealand match at a discounted rate of Rs 12,000 each.
Reporter- Agar aapne 13 k pehle bole hotey mein sare tickets le leta…?
Pankaj- To aap dekh lo abhi koi ho aas pass to de detey hain..
Reporter- Minimum aur kitna kam ho jayega.?.
Pankaj- 13 hazar hain …aur 12k karlo… 3 abhi padhi hain mere pass…aur kal bata dunga…
Pankaj- 3 abhi mere pass confirm hain..par aap mujhe confirm karo mein aage sale nahi karunga…I have to tell the person k aage sale na kare..
Reporter- To 12 hazar for one ticket ?
Pankaj- Accha mein chalta hoon ?
Reporter- To 12 hazar ek ticket ka , pakka?
Pankaj- Haan pakka
Reporter- Teeno meri …lekin deney aapko aana padega?
Pankaj- Kahan par aana hai…?
Reporter- Connaught place..?
Pankaj- Abhi le saktey hain aap..?
Reporter- Abhi to cash nahi hoga..?
Pankaj- Paytm kar dena…?
Reporter- Ek baar poochna bhi padega..
Pankaj- Haan aap pooch le.. 10 min mein bata dena…
[Pankaj offered three more passes of India-New Zealand match at a discounted rate of Rs 12,000 each before leaving.]
On October 15, we purchased one complimentary pass for the India-New Zealand match scheduled to be held on October 22 from Pankaj for Rs 13,000. He promised to sell us future ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup complimentary passes for Rs 12,000 each.
Four days after we purchased the complimentary pass, Pankaj called us on October 19 to ask who all would be going to Dharamsala on October 22 to watch the India-New Zealand match. He then asked if we wanted to buy complimentary passes for the Australia-Netherlands match on October 25 in Delhi. We asked the price of the passes, and he confirmed that it would be less than Rs 12,000 each, as promised. We asked him to wait while we checked the dates of other matches. As we talked, he asked us to prioritize the matches we wanted complimentary passes for, and he would see what was possible. The upshot of the conversation was that he was ready to arrange complimentary passes for any ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup match at any venue across India.
On October 20, Pankaj called again to offer us passes for Australia-Netherlands match to be held in Delhi on October 25. He was uncertain whether those would be complimentary passes or tickets, but assured us they would be around Rs 4-5k each. When we suggested that as it was a low-demand match, we could even buy tickets online by adopting a normal method, he sarcastically replied, “Go and get it, if you are getting.” We asked him to confirm the ticket type and price, and he said he would check and get back to us. He also offered us passes (or tickets) for the Lucknow and Mumbai matches, where India is playing England and Sri Lanka, respectively. We told him we would let him know.
He also said that India-England match tickets in Lucknow on October 29 were in high demand and would be very expensive. We initially showed interest in the Australia-Netherlands match, but changed our minds after hearing about the hype for the India-England match. We asked Pankaj to arrange tickets or a complimentary pass for the India-England match, but he forewarned that those would be very expensive.
Pankaj- Sir Australia-Neitherland wali ticket leni hai ?
Reporter- Ho jayegi ?
Pankaj- Haan iski pricing bhi bahut kam hai.. Kareeb kareeb 2 hazar rupees ki de rahe hain
Reporter- Ye ticket hai ?
Reporter- Kitne mein milegi mujhe ?
Pankaj- Aapko ticket hi hai.. complimentary pass nahi hai
Reporter- Mujhko kitne mein milegi ?
Pankaj- Aapko bhi 2k mein hi milegi.
Reporter- Aap mujhe 2 ticket karwa do.
Pankaj- Aap mujhe bologe tabhi karwaonga nahi to otherwise meri pocket se jayega dhyan rakhna.. Clear bata raha hoon aapko
Reporter- Mujhe 4 k dene honge na.?
Pankaj- Haan mein wahi keh raha hoon 4 hazar dene padenge. Bhej denge na aap kisi ko?
Reporter- Bhej denge… Haha Gurgaon mat bulao yaar.
Pankaj- Kahan lekar aao.. Acha mere ko na Delhi aana hai, I will come on Monday..
Reporter- Monday aayenge? Monday hai 23rd..theek hai 25 ka match hai na ?
Pankaj- Theek hai koi chala jayega dikkat to nahi hai.. Par aisa na ho meri jeb se lag jaye. ?
Reporter- Sir agar maine ticket nahi bhi liye.. tab bhi payment kar dunga.. Aur bataiye..
Pankaj- Mein na aapki ticket kar dunga aap mujhe paytm kar dena.. zyada kaho zyada kar doon.. 4 kar doon. ?
Reporter- Nahi 2 hi kar dijiye. Accha rate to rate mein kya fayda hai inka ?
Pankaj- Rate to rate isliye bech rahe hain zyada demand nahi hai..
Reporter- Accha demand nhi hai ?
Pankaj- Demand supply hoti hai na basically.. India ki bahut zyada demand hoti hai.. Abhi aap dekho jo Lucknow wala match hai na wo kafi expensive ja raha hai kyunki wo India aur England ka hai.. Jo match hai u know wo kitna bada match hai..
Reporter- India- England Lucknow mein ?
Pankaj- India- England Lucknow mein
Reporter- India -England ka kitna rate hai.. ?
Pankaj- Iska mere ko lagta hai mehnga jayega.
Pankaj- Mere ko pata nahi hai.. Mein to iska bhi aapko 4-5 bata raha tha.. But 2 mein hi mil rahi hai..
Reporter- To India-England ka bata do na, Australia ka chod dete hain.
Pankaj- England aap bologe to main pooch longa.
Reporter- Neitherland-Australia chod dete hain kamzor team hai.. Kya.
Reporter- Team weak hai Neitherland.. One sided match hoga.
Pankaj- Haan ye aap keh sakte ho.
Reporter- Iska rehne do aap mujhe Lucknow match ka batao.. England wala.. Neitherland -Australia rehne do.
Pankaj- Theek hai Lucknow wala bataon phir.. Par aapki cost lag jayegi by road jana padega..
Reporter- Koi baat nhi.. Wo chalega.. Lucknow wala bata do.. Lucknow kahan door hai.. By road 5 ghante mein pahuch jayenge.
Pankaj- 650km hai..
Reporter- Mere liye nazdeek hai mein Noida mein rehta hoon.. Aap mujhe rate bata do india-England ke..
Pankaj- To mein is wale Neitherland ko skip kar raha hoon.. ?
Reporter- Theek hai ok..
[Pankaj offered to sell Australia-Netherlands match tickets in Delhi for Rs 2k each, or Rs 4k for two to the reporter. He also said that India-England match tickets in Lucknow were in high demand and would be very expensive. The reporter initially showed interest in the Australia-Netherlands match, but later changed his mind and asked for India-England match tickets instead. Pankaj hinted that the India-England match tickets would be very expensive.]
After a similar investigation into last season’s IPL, Tehelka has conducted another investigation into the ongoing ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in India. Agents like Pankaj are not only selling ICC complimentary passes, but are also involved in selling cricket match tickets, fixing their prices based on demand among cricket fans. According to Pankaj, ticket prices are higher for matches where India is playing, while tickets for matches where India is not involved, such as the Australia-Netherlands match in Delhi on October 25, are sold at face value. However, the big question is: have black marketeers booked all online tickets and are now selling them to the general public, fixing ticket and complimentary pass prices based on match demand? Tehelka has exposed how the touts set ticket and pass prices based on demand for each match. Now, it is now up to the ICC and BCCI to investigate this matter.
(To be continued)