The main turf of the Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium that was re-laid to host the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games in 2010, has started showing alarming signs of wear and tear. The main concern is the area inside the striking circle around one of the goalposts.
The stadium, which was renovated at a cost of Rs 262 crore, could become the centre of controversy, as it’s the venue for the Olympic Qualifiers beginning on February 18. The surface has a warranty period of seven years.
The issue was raised on Tuesday by hockey coach, Michael Nobbs. He even threatened to lodge a protest with the international body (FIH) that is conducting the Qualifiers.
“It’s a big disadvantage to play an event like the Olympic Qualifiers on a faulty pitch,” said Nobbs, also hinting at the uneven surface inside the striking circle and around the half-line.
“On several occasions (during the five-match series against South Africa), the (penalty-corner) push was perfect but the ball couldn’t be trapped cleanly because of the uneven bounce, which spoiled the show.”
Nobbs, along with a team of Sports Authority of India officials, including stadium administrator Uma Dutta, inspected the faulty area on Tuesday. Another round of inspection is due on Wednesday. “Tomorrow, we have a meeting with the agencies that were entrusted with the task of laying the turf,” Dutta said.
Barring a couple of tournaments involving foreign teams, hardly any action has taken place in the stadium after the Commonwealth Games. Sources say a defective base work could be the reason for the uneven surface. “The base was probably prepared hurriedly. That’s why there is a problem,” said a SAI official.