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Korbo lorbo jeetbo re may ring in city next year

Calcutta-based IPL team eyes ACA stadium at Barsapara as one of its home grounds

By Imtiaz Ahmed in Guwahati
  • Published 21.04.16

Guwahati, April 20: State-of-the-art infrastructure capable of hosting any level of cricket and many franchises looking for venues outside their home cities notwithstanding, an IPL match has eluded Guwahati for nine years, ever since the league began.

But that is all set to change with the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) eyeing the Assam Cricket Association (ACA) stadium at Barsapara here as one of its home grounds for the next season.

In fact, the ACA stadium was extremely close to hosting a few matches of the Calcutta-based team this year itself, as Eden Gardens was initially not available for all the home matches of the franchise.

"KKR had been in touch with us to host a couple of their home matches at our stadium towards the end of the season. We had offered them all logistic support as they showed keen interest. However, things did not work out as expected because Eden (Gardens) has now been made available to them for those matches," ACA joint secretary Ajay Sarma said.

"However, they are very keen on adopting our stadium as one of their home grounds next season onwards. We are expecting a delegation from KKR to visit our stadium shortly," he said.

The Assam Cricket Association stadium at Barsapara

Apart from the Eden Gardens in Calcutta, KKR hosted two home matches at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association International Cricket Stadium in Ranchi in 2013. KKR is the only franchise of the league from eastern India.

Sources in KKR, who did not wish to named, also confirmed the news. "Yes, we were trying to host a few matches this season in Guwahati but we could not do it this time. We will try to host some matches there next season," a source said.

With Maharashtra and Rajasthan going through a drought this year, the Rising Pune Supergiants and Rajasthan Royals were forced to shift their home matches to venues outside their states. The ACA tried to get a few matches involving the Pune Supergiants here, but things did not work out.

"Our president (Gautam Roy) contacted them through the BCCI, offering them our stadium for a couple of matches this season. However, they did not show any interest," Sarma said.

Selection of venues is the sole discretion of the franchisees. Neither the IPL governing council nor the BCCI can direct or influence them to adopt any venue.

So far, the ACA stadium has hosted numerous Ranji Trophy and other BCCI tournament matches but is yet to host an international fixture. The 50,000-capacity stadium was scheduled to be completed two years ago but the finishing touches haven't been applied yet because of paucity of funds. The BCCI has been withholding funds to the ACA because of non-submission of financial accounts ever since Gauhati High Court prohibited the state body from holding annual general meetings more than two years ago.

The construction of the stadium started in 2007 and it has missed several deadlines for completion due to inclement weather for more than seven months of the year hampering work.

However, the stadium has all modern amenities, including high-power floodlights. The ACA is expecting the tag of international venue by the end of this year.

"We have already moved the ICC and BCCI requesting inspection for award of international venue. We are expecting a team of ICC and BCCI officials to pay a visit by the third quarter of this year," Sarma said.

The only hitch for the venue is the approach road, which is narrow, and lack of adequate parking space in the vicinity.

"We have already discussed the matter with the Guwahati Municipal Corporation and city police because those things are beyond our purview. They have assured us that the road would be widened and parking space created as soon as a major event is awarded to the venue," Sarma said.

The Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority could take the initiative of creating a multi-level parking space by acquiring a small portion of land from the 59 bigha stadium complex. The densely populated locality also houses a school and other business establishments.