Cuttack: The 2018 edition of Indian Premier League (IPL), the world’s most prestigious and cash-rich Twenty20 tournament, has turned out to be a double whammy for Odisha.
First, not a single cricketer was picked up by franchisee owners of the total eight teams participating this year. Secondly, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) didn’t include Barabati Stadium in Cuttack, one of the oldest venues in India, to host even a single match of the popular tournament.
The cricket lovers from the State who were waiting to watch their favourite players live here were left frustrated post this development.
“I used to go Kolkata and Hyderabad to watch IPL matches every year but I was hoping that Barabati stadium will host some matches this year,” said Jiten Kumar Das, a doctor by profession and cricket lover.
The cricket administrators in the State, however, expressed helplessness in getting IPL matches.
“It all depends on franchisee owners and how strong lobby one has in IPL management. Barabati stadium used to get matches when Ranjib Biswal was IPL Chairman but after his exit no one has been trying to bring matches to Cuttack,” said former Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) Secretary and veteran sports administrator Ashirbad Behera.
One more reason, sources said, franchisee owners are wary of the cost involved in hosting matches at Barabati Stadium as it is comparatively higher than hosting at other cities.
“Franchise owners look for a stadium where two or three matches can be organised so as to reduce the operational cost. Besides, the number of players from that particular state participating in the IPL also matters,” OCA Working Committee Chairman Dhiren Pallai said.
He too reiterated Behera’s claim that no one from the State after Ranjib Biswal has made efforts to get matches for Barabati.
When asked whether OCA had demanded BCCI to allot matches for Barabati Stadium, Pallai said it’s beyond their capacity as it’s an IPL, not international tournament.
Notably, Barabati Stadium had successfully hosted two matches – one Punjab vs Chennai and Punjab Vs Kolkata – in 2014 (IPL-7).
The IPL 2018 will begin on April 7 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. A total of 60 matches will be played at nine venues over 51 days.
In the opening match, defending champions Mumbai Indians will take on two-time winners Chennai Super Kings at Wankhede Stadium.