Kolkata says can be ready for World Cup
The bosses of Kolkata's Eden Gardens insisted on Friday they could be ready to host next month's India-England World Cup clash after the venue was ruled out because of unfinished renovation work.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) sparked a logistical nightmare for organisers on Thursday by asking for an alternative stadium for the February 27 match because of concerns about unfinished facilities at the famous ground.
The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), which runs the stadium, asked the the ICC to reconsider its controversial ruling, which raised further questions about India's ability to host major sporting events.
CAB chief Jagmohan Dalmiya, a former ICC president and himself a construction company owner, wrote to the Indian cricket board on Friday to convince the governing body to stick to the original schedule.
"(The ICC's decision) comes as a shock because when their inspection team was in Kolkata, we were given to understand that they were happy with the progress of the work and had suggested only a few minor modifications," said the letter, seen by AFP.
CAB chiefs promised they would hand over a completed Eden Gardens to the ICC on February 7, "provided we are given an extension."
"Finally, we also state that we will address the bulk of the ICC concerns by January 31, 2011 itself and the remaining little, if any, in another seven days," the letter said.
World Cup organisers were struggling to find a different venue and organise travel, ticketing and security.
"It's a challenge for sure, but we are working on solving the issue at the earliest," tournament director Ratnakar Shetty told reporters at the World Cup headquarters in Mumbai.
The ICC was concerned about work in the renovated stands of Eden Gardens, as well as corporate boxes, the media centre and the location of the radio commentary boxes.
The problems echoed similar trouble before the Delhi Commonwealth Games in October that were marred by severe delays in construction work and shoddy finishing.
Tour operators said they hoped the matter would be resolved soon with the tournament looming.
"England v India is the biggest of all the group games," Shirley Rattray of Cricket Logistics, the ICC's official travel partner, told the Cricinfo website.
"It is the most popular because Eden Gardens is such an iconic venue to watch cricket. A match there is regarded as one of the sporting things to do before you die.
"So it's a big shame that the game has had to be moved."
Rattray said tickets needed to be relocated and fresh flights and hotels booked.
"It's never easy when things like this happen, but it will get done. That's the way things work in India, things can be turned around at the last minute very quickly."
Eden Gardens, which hosted the World Cup final in 1987 and a semi-final in 1996, is due to host three other matches. A decision on whether they will go ahead will be taken by the ICC at a later date.
The three games are South Africa v Ireland on March 15, Ireland v the Netherlands on March 18 and Zimbabwe v Kenya on March 20.
The World Cup is being co-hosted by India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka from February 19 to April 2.