The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) has requested the BCCI to move the England vs Pakistan ODI World Cup game, scheduled to be played at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens on November 12, to another date, suggesting November 11 as an alternative. The development came after the city police informed CAB that they are expecting enhanced security for the game as Pakistan are one of the teams. November 12 is also the date for Kalipujo, one of the city’s, and the region’s, most important Hindu festivals.
ESPNcricinfo understands that CAB officials had a meeting with city police authorities on Thursday, and were informed about the law-and-order concerns on the day of the festival. Following that, the association wrote to Jay Shah, the BCCI secretary, requesting the date change.
This comes close on the heels of the Ahmedabad police expressing its inability to provide security for the India vs Pakistan game on October 15, since it clashed with the first day of the nine-day Hindu festival of Navaratri, one of the most important festivals in Gujarat, of which Ahmedabad is a part, and many other parts of northern India. The game – still in Ahmedabad – has since been moved to October 14, though the ICC or the BCCI is yet to make an official statement to that effect.
Shah, meanwhile, has said that the date change – for that and a few other matches – became necessary because some participating boards had written to the BCCI expressing their concerns about the travel involved between matches.
Kolkata police’s position is not ideal managing a major religious event and a major cricket match on the same day.
The CAB’s position is an unenviable one. In 2011, when the ODI World Cup was last played in this part of the world, Kolkata, and the city’s iconic Eden Gardens stadium, was scrapped as a host centre after an ICC inspection team concluded that the stadium, where the India vs England game was slotted, was not fit for the occasion. The stadium was undergoing a facelift at the time, and the ICC inspection team had concluded that there was no way the reconstruction work would be completed by the deadline.
There has been no ODI World Cup game at Eden Gardens since the 1996 semi-final between India and Sri Lanka had to be called off – India forced to forfeit the match – with India at 120 for 8 in reply to Sri Lanka’s 251 for 8 after suffering a dramatic collapse from 98 for 1. Disappointed spectators threw bottles and other projectiles on to the ground, forcing the match referee, Clive Lloyd, to award the match to Sri Lanka, who went on to win the tournament by beating Australia in the final in Lahore.
CAB, and cricket fans in Kolkata, wouldn’t want to be in a situation where the big-ticket England vs Pakistan game is moved to another city, and it is understood the association officials have also reached out to Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of the state of West Bengal, to try and intervene.
The original schedule of the World Cup had Eden Gardens marked to host five games: Bangladesh vs Netherlands on October 28, Bangladesh vs Pakistan on October 31, India vs South Africa on November 5, the England vs Pakistan on November 12, and the second semi-final on November 16.
The schedule of the World Cup was released after a long delay on June 27, just 100 days before the scheduled start of the tournament on October 5 in Ahmedabad, whereas the schedules for the last two editions of the tournament, in Australia and New Zealand (2015) and England and Wales (2019) were out more than 12 months in advance.
The World Cup is scheduled to begin with reigning champions England taking on New Zealand and end on November 5, but there is still no update on when the tickets will go on sale.