New Delhi: For the first time since the launch of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008, the GMR-owned Delhi Daredevils are set to play two of their home games outside Delhi next year when they would be played in Chhattisgarh capital Raipur.
The newly-constituted executive committee of the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) late on Monday night approved the GMR proposal to relocate the matches to the 64,000-capacity International Cricket Stadium in Naya Raipur.
The IPL governing council is yet to approve of the change. The BCCI announced the schedule on Friday, but the change should only be a formality as the Board always respects the desire of IPL franchises, and IPL schedules have been changed in the past, too, due to various reasons.
It is yet to be decided which matches would be shifted to Raipur. The sixth edition of the IPL will be played between April 3 and May 26.
Interestingly, IPL governing council chairman Rajeev Shukla, in his capacity as one of the three government nominees on the DDCA executive committee, attended the first meeting of the new panel held at DDCA president Arun Jaitley’s residence, said reliable sources.
“Shukla had no objection to the shifting of the matches as Chhattisgarh happens to be one of the catchment areas of the Delhibased IPL franchise,” said a DDCA source.
Chhattisgarh State Cricket Sangh (CSCS) secretary Rajesh Dave as well as sources in the GMR also confirmed about the shifting of the matches to Raipur.
“Yes, the discussion of having two of the Daredevils’ matches in Raipur has been going on for some time. They will most likely be played here as Chhattisgarh is a catchment area of the Delhi Daredevils. People here are crazy about cricket and always look forward to watching international stars in action,” Dave told MAIL TODAY. “The BCCI has told us that some matches of the Corporate Trophy would be held in Raipur, besides Indore, in February,” he disclosed.
There is a precedent of having matches outside franchises’ home base, either because they didn’t have stadium in that city or due to some other reasons. Erstwhile, franchises Deccan Chargers and Kochi, besides Kings XI Punjab, Rajasthan Royals, and Pune Warriors India, have all organised games in more than one city.
“The desire of Delhi Daredevils to host two IPL matches in Raipur was discussed at the DDCA executive committee meeting. DDCA expressed no objection, and Rajeev Shukla too was okay with the shifting of matches, though he pointed out that the IPL governing council has to formally approve the proposal,” the source told MAIL TODAY.
Dave said that the city has the required paraphernalia to organise IPL matches. “The stadium is world class. When we organised an exhibition match on its opening on September 6, 2008, several present and former Indian stars — Pragyan Ojha, Yusuf Pathan, Praveen Kumar and Dilip Vengsarkar — were present here,” he said. “Canada also played three matches here as part of their 2011 World Cup preparation.” The CSCS secretary emphasised that there are good hotels and their distance from the stadium is also not much. “Accommodation is not an issue. There are two good four-star hotels, Babylon International and Golden Tulip, where teams stay, but they are as good as five-star hotels. The link between the stadium and the hotels is a four-lane road and there’s not much traffic on it. It takes barely 15 minutes to reach the stadium,” said Dave.
GMR might just incur some financial loss by relocating the matches to Naya Raipur’s International Cricket Stadium, but the reason for introducing the IPL to the Chhattisgarh capital seems to be more commercial. GMR, according to its website, has signed a project agreement with the Chhattisgarh government for implementation, operation and maintenance of a 1370 MW coalbased thermal power plant in the state. So, IPL matches would give an opportunity to not just GMR’s employees but also to people of the region to watch some of the top cricketers in action.