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Siliguri sets foot on ODI course

Siliguri, Sept. 8: Cricket lovers, take heart. Sachin and Sehwag could soon set the town on fire if plans to upgrade the Kanchenjunga Krirangan are in place by winter.

Mayor Bikash Ghosh, who is also president of the Siliguri Mahakuma Krira Parishad, said they have received an offer from the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) to upgrade the stadium so that it is fit to host a one-day international. “It cost us more than Rs 10 lakh to upgrade the stadium, which includes the purchase of machinery, improving the drainage and expanding the ground,” Ghosh said.

As a first test, a Ranji Trophy tie will be held in the new-look stadium in November. If it is a success, Ghosh and his associates can make a case for being allowed to stage a one-dayer.

The officials see no reason why the stadium can’t be made conducive to host an international match. “Kanchenjunga Krirangan is one of the best grounds in India. Tournaments like the Asian Championship Cup, Nehru Cup, Airlines Federation trophy and National Women’s Football matches have been held in this stadium. The Indian XI has also practiced here,” said Parishad secretary Samir Bindu Dhar.

As part of the efforts to make the stadium cricket-friendly, the radius of the ground has been increased from 55 yards to 60, for which the fencing had to be removed.

“The pitch that has been laid is different from what you will get in other centres. We followed the advice offered by experts from New Zealand when they had come to Eden Gardens,” said Parishad vice-president S.P. Guha.

According to Ghosh, the pitch that is being laid will help fast bowlers. “It will be what we call a ‘bouncy’ pitch. Earlier, about two feet was dug up to prepare the pitch. Now, what we have done is dig only till about 11 inches from the ground. A layer of stone chips of different sizes was laid above a single layer of bricks, on top of which two layers of soil were laid. On top of the soil layers, grass will be grown, which will make the pitch more compact and bouncy,” he added.

“We were thinking of introducing lights for the stadium but the budget crossed Rs 1 crore, so we cancelled the plan,” said Ghosh. “The cricket board will judge the stadium this November. If they find the stadium fit for the purpose, we can host more games,” added Guha.

Ghosh, however, clarified that volleyball and hockey matches will continue to be played at the ground.

“We are also planning to make the stadium a two-tiered structure,” said Dhar.

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