The Telegraph
Wednesday , December 7 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
CIMA Gallary

International makeover for capital stadium
- Galleries like ones seen in New Zealand planned at railway facility

(From top) Groundsmen at the East Coast Railway Stadium in Bhubaneswar, the pavilion and players come out for the Ranji Trophy match between Odisha and Karnataka, which began on Tuesday. Pictures by Ashwinee Pati

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 6: East Coast Railway is planning to turn its cricket stadium in the capital into an international sporting facility.

The authorities have submitted a Rs 54-crore plan to the railway ministry to upgrade the stadium, making it capable of holding international cricket matches.

According to the plan, the stadium will have a seating capacity of nearly 42,000. It will have a parking lot as well as other facilities needed to host international matches.

The authorities are even planning to build galleries with grassy slopes for spectators as seen in most cricket grounds of New Zealand.

The present stadium was built across an area of over 22 acres at a cost of Rs 6 crore.

This stadium has already hosted four Ranji Trophy matches. The fifth match got underway this morning, with the Odisha team taking on Karnataka.

“We have already sent a master plan for expansion of the stadium to the railway ministry. The Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) has also assured us that they will provide all possible help in this regard,” said president of East Coast Railway Sports Association, Dilip Kumar Samantray.

OCA secretary Ashirbad Behera said the association was trying to provide financial help to the railway stadium for better infrastructure.

“We have even requested the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) authorities to provide funds for development of the railway stadium,” said Behera.

At present, the stadium has four turfs for practice. The drainage system is one of the best in the state, officials said.

The stadium hosted its first Ranji Trophy match in November 2008.

A few Twenty20 matches during the first edition of the Odisha Premier League (OPL) were also hosted at this venue.

A huge manual scoreboard has been put up for the first time for the ongoing Odisha versus Karnataka Ranji Trophy match.

The ground in-charge, J.K. Patnaik, said a sports track that would suit the batsmen as well as bowlers has been prepared. “The outfield is good and new grass has been planted,” said Patnaik.

The skipper of Odisha Ranji team, Natraj Behera, is not playing this match because of a hairline fracture in his ribcage. He was injured during the last Ranji match against Mumbai played at Driems College stadium in Tangi near Cuttack. Haladhar Das is leading the Odisha team.

The match is important from Odisha’s point of view, as the team has been able to garner just one point from four matches so far.