The stakes hovering around the second Test against the West Indies, likely to be Sachin Tendulkar’s 200th, are so high that it has triggered a battle royal among state associations to win hosting rights for the landmark game.
In the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI’s) working committee meeting on Sunday, the board decided to invite the West Indies over for a series in November.
The series would be played between Australia’s one-day tour of India in October and India’s tour of South Africa, which was due to begin on November 18, but is now in jeopardy.
On Tuesday, the West Indies Cricket Board approved a two-Test and three-ODI tour.
According to the BCCI’s rotation policy for Test venues, Bangalore and Ahmedabad are in queue to host the next two Tests in the country. While Bangalore should host the first Test, hue and cry surrounds the second Test.
Mumbai and Kolkata, third and fourth in line according to the rotation policy, are both keen on hosting the game ahead of Ahmedabad, while the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) is not ready to forego its right to stage the big game.
After all, a player is slated to play the 200th Test for the first time in the history of Test cricket. That the player is Tendulkar, who has played 198 Tests, has only multiplied the hype of the milestone game.
The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) was the first to throw its hat in the ring.
The association claimed every city has the right to play home to Tendulkar’s grand achievement. “The Master Blaster belongs to whole country. I think Eden Gardens is most apt venue to host the historic match with the biggest capacity,” Biswarup Dey, treasurer, CAB, said.
Dismissing CAB’s claims, the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) appeared confident that if the rotational policy had to be broken, the second Test had to come to the Wankhede – Tendulkar’s home ground.
“If the rotation policy is not to be followed, then we will request the BCCI to grant us the Test. After all, Wankhede is Tendulkar’s home and that is where he should play the second Test,” Ravi Savant, MCA president and BCCI treasurer, said.
On the other hand, the GCA said it did not react to Mumbai and Kolkata vying for the hosting rights because it had a plan.
“While the final decision will lie with the BCCI’s tours and fixtures committee, we will write to the BCCI to stick to the rotation policy, according to which, we should host the second Test. So how can Kolkata and Mumbai demand it?” said Rajesh Patel, secretary, GCA.
Asked if the board had specific plans, the BCCI’s interim president and CAB president, Jagmohan Dalmiya, said, “The board has yet not finalised the venue. It’s irrelevant to speak on the choice of venue at this moment. Let us first come to a conclusion.”