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Ganguly says Eden Gardens ready to host Pakistan-India tie

KOLKATA – Former India captain Sourav Ganguly termed the shifting of marque India-Pakistan World Twenty20 clash out of Dharamsala as an accident for Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association but said the historical Eden Gardens was ready to host the high profile match on March 19″It must be a sad moment for them for no fault of theirs. I feel for Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association and Dharamsala. I sympathise wih Anurag Thakur and people of Himachal for what has happened. It’s one of the best stadia of the country and could have hosted the game very easily,” the Cricket Association of Bengal president said after the ICC decided the match to Eden due to security concerns. After days of speculation and following pressure from Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), the ICC announced its decision to shift the venue to Eden Gardens citing security concerns. Sympathizing with Dharamsala, Ganguly remembered that Eden Gardens too lost the India-England World Cup match in 2011. “This is an accident which has happened. It has caused inconvenience to the people of Dharamshala. We had lost a match in 2011 as well,” Ganguly said.He, however, said for CAB it is just like hosting one more match and the Eden Gardens is ready in all its grandeur. “We are ready. I don’t think there’s any difference. It’s just another team who comes, plays and goes. We just have to host another game. Security will be tight but the playing conditions remain the same.” Thanking BCCI for awarding the match Ganguly said, “We are happy that we got this game. This was going on for a while. We had requested the BCCI as we did not have an India game, while every other seven venues had. BCCI always said you have the final. We are thankful to BCCI for awarding this match to us. Criterion was Eden Gardens. It’s historical. We are one of the best grounds in the world and it’s looking outstanding.”Asked whether the Eden was best suited for the marquee clash, Ganguly disagreed: “I don’t think so. India have 20 venues which can host World Cups. We have superb stadiums all over the country.” With the sudden addition of a match that too the commercially lucrative India-Pakistan clash, handling tickets would be an issue, Ganguly pointed out. “Preparation and planning is not that difficult we prepare for every game, we try and make the best for every game. I don’t think it that’s a problem from that point of view. Handling and distribution will be an issue. We just have do it. We keep doing the same thing every day.” Asked about the wicket, he said, “It will be full of runs, what else.”As politics trumps cricket, ICC unlikely to punish BCCI for Dharamsala chaos: The Board of Control for Cricket in India certainly lost face when the International Cricket Council was forced to shift the marquee India versus Pakistan T20 World Cup clash out of Dharamsala due to security concerns. After all, Dharamsala was a venue handpicked by BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur. The reluctance of the Congress-led Himachal Pradesh state government to host Pakistan players citing “patriotic” reasons was a solid card that the state’s octogenarian chief minister Virbhadra Singh played at the eleventh hour to scupper Thakur’s plans to host possibly the biggest match of the T20 World Cup. Thakur is a young BJP Minister of Parliament and insiders see Virbhadra’s plans as a carefully worked out plan to york the BCCI secretary ambitious designs for the controversial Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association. While questions have been raised as to why Dharamsala was chosen to host a massive game like India versus Pakistan, there is little doubt that politics trumped cricket leaving BCCI with egg on its face. Dharamsala’s loss is Kolkata’s gain and with Assemble elections lurking, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee will score some brownie points at BCCI (read BJP’s) expense. Probably, Eden Gardens would have been the right venue to host a derby game like India versus Pakistan. ICC has understood Himachal Pradesh’s intolerance towards Pakistani cricketers. The Pakistan Cricket Board was justified in refusing to play in Dharamsala. In recent times, Australia cancelled a tour of Bangladesh due to security concerns.ICC CEO David Richardson told reporters in New Delhi on Wednesday that it was too premature to even think of “punishing” BCCI because of the Dharamsala chaos. After getting a ringside view of politics that prevails in a “complicated” and “big” country like India, Richardson, a former South African Test player and lawyer only had his sympathies for the world’s richest Board that could not duck a bouncer it never saw coming.”Security of players is of prime concern. ICC hasn’t thought of punishing BCCI at this stage…India is a complicated country. There are challenges for BCCI. We accept that,” Richardson said. It has been evident once again that one can’t keep sports away from politics. But when politicians play their cards to win personal battles, it only queers the pitch and the image of a nation suffers. After the Dharamsala incident, the Lodha panel’s recommendation to keep politicians and ministers away from the BCCI, will only gather more steam.

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