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FIH Series Finals may be shifted

Lucknow and Raipur have emerged front-runners as there are issues with pitches at New Delhi, Bengaluru and Pune.

other sports Updated: May 05, 2019 11:12 IST
Sharad Deep
Sharad Deep
Lucknow
FIH Series Finals,Hockey India,Kalinga Stadium
The damage caused at Kalinga Stadium by Cyclone Fani(Screen Grab)

Destruction caused by Cyclone Fani in Orissa on Friday has left Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Stadium also heavily damaged, and it is set to force the FIH Series Finals, scheduled there from June 6 to 15, out. It is likely to be staged in Lucknow or Raipur.

There is less than a month left for teams to arrive and Hockey India will have to decide fast. “We’ve just three weeks to set things right (in the stadium). Foreign teams will start reaching Bhubaneswar around May 29-30. We need to decide about the venue in a day or two,” a HI insider said on Saturday. “Even some foreign teams are enquiring about the situation in Bhubaneswar.”

Lucknow and Raipur have emerged front-runners as there are issues with pitches at New Delhi, Bengaluru and Pune. “The work on Delhi turf is yet to start, whereas Bengaluru doesn’t have a spectators’ gallery. In Maharashtra, a dispute in the association doesn’t allow HI to conduct the event there,” a HI official said on condition of anonymity. “Lucknow and Raipur have the best available turfs right now, and if we can’t repair the Kalinga Stadium within three weeks, we’ll have to shift to one of these places.”

Raipur hosted the Hockey World Series Finals in 2015 and the stadium was praised for its facilities.

Manish Srivastava, secretary, Chhattisgarh Hockey, said there has been no proposal yet from Hockey India to host the event in Raipur. “Nobody in Hockey India has approached us. But with support from the state government, we can organise it,” he said on Saturday.

Hockey India has not sounded out Uttar Pradesh Hockey either, about a possible shift to Lucknow.

Uttar Pradesh Hockey conducted the Junior Men’s World Cup at Lucknow in 2016, which India won.

The FIH too said it is waiting for details from Hockey India.

“We are in contact with Hockey India to get further information. Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and all people affected by this disaster,” the FIH said to HT.

Local officials say the Kalinga stadium, rebuilt for the men’s World Cup held in December, is heavily damaged.

“Like in other parts of the city, including the airport and railway station, the Kalinga stadium too has suffered badly. Floodlights, window panes of almost all the rooms, and above all the turf, have got damaged. It will take at least five years to get it back to its original shape,” a source in Bhubaneswar hockey said. “For now, there is no water or electricity,” he added.

Repairing the stadium on priority looks improbable considering the massive cyclone relief and rehabilitation work the state would have to undertake in the next couple of months. Also, with the assembly election results to be declared after May 23, the government may not be able to allocate funds for the hockey stadium for rehabilitation work.

The FIH Series Finals is an important first step towards qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics. India, the world No 5, play Russia in the opening match. Poland, Uzbekistan, South Africa, Japan, USA and Mexico are also in the fray.

First Published: May 05, 2019 10:26 IST