Kolkata: The mood in Kolkata and Bengaluru, the next two cities where the IPL bandwagon is scheduled to move for the next round of matches, is distinctly lukewarm as they are carrying on with the formalities to play the hosts. While there is no change in the IPL schedule as of now except the Kolkata Knight Riders-Royal Challengers Bangalore game, which has been postponed after two positive cases of Covid-19 in the KKR camp, the overwhelming number of cases in both these cities as well as the country are acting as a dampener.
Hemang Amin, the IPL’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), paid a flying visit to Kolkata to take stock of the preparations earlier this week and expressed his satisfaction with the bio-bubble arrangement at the Eden Gardens and Jadavpur University ground - the venue for practice sessions. Amin had a meeting with Sourav Ganguly, President of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Abhishek Dalmiya and Snehasish Ganguly, President and Secretary of of host association Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), respectively.
‘‘The meeting was more of a follow-up one as an IPL core team has been already at work in the city since the third week of March once Kolkata was confirmed as venue. The University ground has been installed with floodlights to meet the requirement of evening practice sessions of four teams which will be stationed here.’’ one of the organising committee members told Gulf News.
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While Kolkata Knight Riders will not be playing at the Eden as the fixtures have scheduled matches on ‘neutral’ venues only, there will be no dearth of starpower with Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Capitals, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals scheduled to play here while Bengaluru will be hosting the other four teams. RCB and SRH are scheduled to kick off the Kolkata leg on May 9 (Sunday) while Chennai Super Kings and Punjab Kings will open the Bengaluru leg the same day. Altogether 10 matches will be played over a period of 15 days in these two venues.
There are, however, no prizes for guessing that the cricket-crazy people of Kolkata - where scenes of the KKR fans lining up the streets even at midnight to cheer their team back to the hotel after a win had been commonplace - are not in their best frame of mind for the sport this time. The city had recorded a high percentage of positive cases in the wake of a long drawn state elections, which saw campaign rallies across political parties often flouting norms of Covid protocol in terms of safety protocol and social distancing.
Form of distraction
Dalmiya, son of the legendary cricket administrator Jagmohan Dalmiya, put up a brave face in terms of meeting the challenges. ‘‘We have done Syed Mustaq Ali T20 before, so there will be no difficulty. The bio bubble at the stadium will have three zones. All security arrangements will be strengthened and firefighters could visit Eden on May 4. Firefighters and police will be in Zone 3 of bio bubble,’’ he told the local media.
A Bengaluru resident said that with the lockdown on in Karnataka and all matches being played behind closed doors, it’s difficult to gauge people’s mood. ‘‘If anything, they are looking forward at the matches as a form of distraction,’’ he added.