Had it not been for IPL commissioner Rajeev Shukla and captain Suresh Raina, the Rajkot-based Gujarat Lions may not have agreed to play matches at the Green Park. Uttar Pradesh’s only Test venue still lacks facilities to stage a big match.
As secretary of the state cricket association (UPCA was given the ownership of Green Park for 29 years as per a memorandum of understanding), Shukla reportedly pulled strings to bring the matches here. Raina, the UP Ranji skipper, too was for staging the matches here.
The main issue is that the stadium doesn’t have proper floodlights, which has prevented the ground from hosting a single day-night international.
Both these IPL matches, to be played on Thursday and Saturday, were originally scheduled to be played at Gujarat Lions’ main home base, Rajkot. The franchise made Kanpur a standby at the start of IPL 9. Only on April 30 did the BCCI at its meeting confirm Green Park as venue for the two matches.
“It’s true we had to do a lot of hard work to bring the match here and Shukla ji was instrumental in this,” a UP cricket association director told HT on condition of anonymity on Tuesday. “The team has six UP boys, including Raina, and we are hoping for a good crowd for both the matches.”
The Gujarat franchise has denied agreeing to hold the matches here under pressure.
The floodlights, which courted controversy due to the wrong construction of truss roofing at the directorate and VVIP pavilions, are insufficient and the huge dark patches on the boundary near the two pavilions will cause problems for the fielders. Some of the Gujarat Lions players were surprised to see the dark patches. One player even discussed the issue with the groundsman.
Sources said a reputed company had suggested installation of two additional poles for lights, but the UPCA instead chose to fix 29 bulbs after removing them from pole No 2.
The stadium also does not have a proper players’ pavilion while a major portion of the ‘E’ public gallery is in a broken-down condition, although tickets are sold for this area too. The gallery has not been repaired since October, when India played South Africa in a one-dayer. Engineers from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur had inspected the gallery and found it ‘unsafe’.