The last time India played at the Barabati Stadium, the match got disrupted for 15 minutes when plastic bottles were thrown from the stands as the hosts lost to South Africa in a T20 International.
This time, the India national cricket team will check into Bhubaneswar only a day before Thursday’s ODI against England, and it’s partially due to security concerns.
No place to stay
The BCCI-sanctioned hotel in the Odisha capital is booked till Tuesday for a wedding. The matter was informed to the Board by the local organisers who did not want to take a chance with security.
So, the teams stayed back and trained in Pune on Tuesday. “The hotels are booked for marriages almost a year in advance. We could do little about it,” said an Orissa Cricket Association (OCA) official.
Ban on water pouches
The other development this time is that police are not going to allow water bottles in the stands. “They will not even allow water pouches,” said the official.
“We have arranged for water to be circulated in the stands in plastic glasses. There will be water dispensers and we are also providing drinking water through taps at various parts of the stands. We have hung a net around the stands, just in case,” he added.
For Thursday’s match, more than 3500 security personnel have been deployed and during their briefing at the stadium on Tuesday afternoon, the stress was on unauthorised entry in the stands.
“We are expecting the stands to fill up at least an hour before the match. The gates will open by 9.30am on Thursday so despite thorough frisking, which will take time, fans do not miss out on the action,” said an OCA steering committee official.
Looking back in anger
Crowds in this part of the country have shown that they can be bad losers. Eden Gardens witnessed two forgettable incidents not long ago.
The World Cup semifinal in 1996 between India and Sri Lanka was disrupted and the match was awarded to the visitors. The Asia Cup Test Championship match against Pakistan had to be completed before empty stands.
A pitched battle between the police and crowds broke out after wet patches on the bowlers’ run up meant the India and England ODI in Guwahati in 2006 had to be abandoned even while the sun was out.
Assault on Chappell
Bhubaneswar has its history too. In 2007, as India arrived for the match against West Indies, Birenchi Maharana of the Kalinga Sena slapped the-then India coach Greg Chappell for not including players from the state in the team.
“The security is too tight these days for something like that to happen,” the official said with a wry smile.