Business Sports

Out of fashion at home, but in demand from Afghanistan and Maldives

MOHALI: Set to become a ‘former’ international venue once the Punjab Cricket Association’s (PCA) new stadium becomes functional next year, the one named after former BCCI president IS Bindra will not be lying idle. There is a strong chance it will be used by foreign teams for training other than hosting domestic matches.

Sunday’s fourth India-Australia ODI is likely to be the last international match in this format at the existing PCA Stadium. Unless it gets a Test in the 2019-20 season, this could also turn out to be the final international fixture at the venue which started staging matches of this stature in 1993. It has so far seen 13 Test matches and 18 ODIs, including World Cup semifinals in 1996 and 2011.

The association plans to host all big matches starting with the 2020 IPL at the new stadium with a capacity of 38,000, nearly 10,000 more than the IS Bindra Stadium.

The PCA has started receiving queries from countries with inadequate infrastructure for cricket on letting them use this stadium. “We have received a letter from the cricket authorities of Maldives. They want to hold training camps here. Officials from Afghanistan have also spoken to us. Training facilities, ground to play, accommodation and food, everything is available here under one roof. We intend making these available to those interested from next year,” said PCA secretary RP Singla. The association will generate some revenue from this as well.

With most state units complaining of the financial crisis following the Supreme Court clamp on BCCI funds for not obeying its reform orders, the PCA’s new stadium project has not faced this problem. In fact, most of the work was done in the period when the association was not receiving funds. “We had sufficient from the PCA’s share of BCCI revenues before the court passed that order. Money has not been a constraint,” said Singla, informing that the cost is in the region of `160 crores.

State associations under BCCI owning two stadiums fit for international cricket is a rarity and so is the practice of having foreign teams training in those. Vidarbha Cricket Association is the only state unit with two stadiums, but the old one is used only for local games. Andhra Cricket Association, which has its second stadium coming up in Vijayawada after the one in Visakhapatnam, has had teams from Nepal and Thailand using their infrastructure for training. A few years ago, players from Cricket Australia’s academy accompanied by Greg Chappell trained near Bengaluru, in facilities maintained by the Karnataka State Cricket Association.

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