In an apparent pressure tactic aimed at the Cricket Association Bengal (CAB), the Kolkata Knight Riders have now publicly floated the idea of playing two of their Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 matches in Bangladesh.
Buoyed at the euphoria in the neighbouring nation after the country's leading allrounder Mashrafe bin Mortaza was bought by the Knight Riders at the recent auction in Goa, team co-owner Juhi Chawla said that two of the seven home matches of the Sourav Ganguly-led side could be held in Bangladesh.
"We are thinking of taking the matches to Bangladesh as well. We are getting so much of love from the people from Bangladesh. We are getting so much support from them," the Bollywood actress said on the sidelines of a programme by Ambuja Realty for extension of its holiday resort Ganga Kutir on the bank of the river Ganges here Sunday night.
"It's a new thought that came up after the auction," she said.
The Knight Riders roped in Mortaza for a whopping Rs.30 million, triggering celebrations in Bangladesh.
"It could be exciting for the team and our fan base which has now extended beyond West Bengal. If it works out and seems feasible to do, then we will do it," she said.
The Knight Riders owners have been engaged in a battle of attrition over financial issues with CAB on organising the team's home matches at the Eden Gardens. CAB has expressed dissatisfaction over the sum of Rs.35 million that the Knight Riders are scheduled to give for the seven matches held at Eden Gardens in the inaugural edition of the high-profile league last year.
CAB has demanded more money saying it spent over Rs.80 million for making various arrangements, but Knight Riders have refused to increase the money.
Chawla, however, confirmed that five of the matches would be staged at the Eden Gardens, which would be the "home for the Knight Riders".
Asked whether they were considering Cuttack as a second centre, Chawla said: "We haven't decided it yet. It is still fluid. Very soon we will come to a decision. We just had a meeting with (CAB president Jagmohan) Dalmiya".
On the rationale for choosing Mortaza, she said: "We have selected him because he can play for the entire season. It will give us many more returns."
Chawla said the team will miss Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar, who will not be part of the side this year. "But life has to go on," she said.
The actress said team co-owner Shah Rukh Khan has taken a month-long leave from all other commitments to be with the team during the coming IPL. "He will be very much present during the matches, especially in Kolkata."