Double joy for Kolkata at World T20

Pratik Sarkar / 10 March 2016
Eden Pitch

“Potentially, we have the two biggest matches in the tournament,” a junior Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) member was quoted on Wednesday evening, after the much-anticipated India vs Pakistan encounter was relocated from Dharamshala to the hallowed Eden Gardens stadium last evening.

The iconic ground, which has been home to some of Indian cricket’s greatest moments, had just been confirmed to host the marquee India-Pakistan World T20 group stage match, with International Cricket Council (ICC) CEO Dave Richardson confirming that the fixture has been shifted from Dharamshala to Kolkata in an official press conference held in New Delhi.

Eden Gardens, which missed out on the opportunity to host an India game in the initial tournament itinerary, waited eagerly as soon as it became apparent on Wednesday morning that the match would be pulled out of Dharamshala after a visit by a three-member security team from Pakistan proved unfruitful.

While Mohali and Bangalore were the other options, the CAB’s persistence and the preference of the Pakistan team and management to play in Kolkata tilted the scales in Eden Gardens’ favor. By afternoon, Kolkata was all but confirmed. But the CAB officials chose to reman tight lipped until an official announcement was made. Even Sourav Ganguly, the CAB president who was in constant touch with the ICC and BCCI, waived off a small media contingent outside his office with a promise to speak when the news became official.

“We are happy that we got this game,” Ganguly said in a press conference. “This discussion was going on for a while. We had requested the BCCI… We are one of the best grounds in the world and it’s looking outstanding. We did not have an India game while each of the other seven venues hosting the World T20 had… BCCI always replied with ‘But Eden is hosting the final’. We are thankful to BCCI for awarding this match to us. It’s a tribute to (Late) Mr. (Jagmohan) Dalmiya. Hope he will be smiling up there… He had brought the final here as BCCI president.”

With a 60,000-strong partisan crowd expected at the Eden Gardens on March 19, the CAB stands to make significant financial gains. But such an 11th-hour rescheduling means tickets for the fixture will need to be reissued with those who bought tickets for the Dharamshala match getting the first right of refusal.