After losing the prestigious India-Pakistan World T20 match, there was more ignominy in store for HPCA when this year’s IPL schedule was released.
The stadium didn’t figure in the list of venues, with local franchise Kings XI Punjab completely ignoring the stadium for the third successive year. Dharamsala, which was hosting the World T20 qualifiers, had high hopes of bagging a few IPL matches this year but the unfriendly government in the state and the fiasco over security for the Pakistan match ensured that KXIP stayed away from the venue.
The tussle between BJP MP and HPCA president Anurag Thakur and Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh is seen as the major reason for the shifting of the March 19 match.
“We were hoping to get at least three matches but all the things that happened in buildup to the March 19 match may have made the franchise cagey about the venue,” HPCA media secretary Mohit Sood said.
Instead, the KXIP have opted for VCA stadium in Nagpur, which will host three matches and rest of the four matches will be played at the PCA Stadium in Mohali.
There is more to the issue, as the state government also levies a hefty entertainment tax and also charges for providing security for the matches.
“The state government doesn’t want cricket to grow. They are happy to put HPCA down in whichever possible way. It’s not conducive and also counterproductive and, in a way, brings a bad name to the state and city,” Sood added.