In a surprising move, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has once again shifted an international cricket match from Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium (VCA), Jamtha. The fourth match of the upcoming five-game T20I series against Australia, initially scheduled to be held at Jamtha on December 1, will now take place in Raipur.
This decision has left Nagpur cricket fans disappointed, especially considering that the city has already missed out on hosting any World Cup games this year. Jamtha had previously hosted four World Cup matches in 2011, including the high-profile India versus South Africa clash. The sudden change in venue for the Australia T20I series adds to the frustration of local cricket enthusiasts.
Earlier in the year, a One-Day International match between India and New Zealand, slated to be held at Jamtha, was also inexplicably shifted to Raipur. This marks the second instance in 2023 where the BCCI has altered plans, impacting the sentiments of cricket fans in Nagpur.
While the BCCI has not provided specific reasons for the venue changes, there are reports that VCA had undertaken substantial ground excavation for drainage work, contributing to the relocation of the international matches.
Speaking to Lokmat Times, Farokh Dastoor, VCA CEO, said, "There is no specific reason, except that we are undertaking some drainage work. Because the drainage system is about 15-16 years old and was causing a problem during the monsoon. It would not get drained properly. So, this is the right time after monsoon that we should do it. So we started the work, thinking that we will complete it in time. But, due to other factors also, like erosion in the pipelines, short deposits, we informed BCCI, and it was decided that it is safe not to hold a match unnecessarily. Otherwise, it would cause a problem, though there would be no rains but the grass and the level of the ground. And so, therefore, it is shifted to Raipur. There is no other reason."
When asked about when we can expect the work to be completed, he said, “Work should be completed in about a month's time now. Months one, and then we will have a trial. We will water the ground, see that it is working, and we hope that everything will be okay by summer end. So, in the monsoon, we can again have a trial of the drainage system. So, don't read too much into it. This is the only reason that the match has gone to Raipur.'"
Despite initial assurances from VCA officials about completing the work on time, the sudden shift to Raipur has raised questions about the decision-making process and communication within the cricket board.