Guwahati all set to host its first IPL game
Jnan Jyoti Deka
After all the speculations and rumours, finally, Guwahati has been enlisted as one of the venues for the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League. The confirmation came after the meeting between IMG Reliance, the IPL Governing Council and Assam Cricket Association on 14 February 2020 and Assam Finance Minister Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted the same. Dr. Bhupen Hazarika Cricket Stadium will serve as the home ground to Rajasthan Royals for two matches.
Ever since the inaugural edition of IPL in 2008, the north-eastern region of India has been eagerly waiting to witness the cricketing action of the coveted domestic tournament live. With time, the fame of IPL reached its zenith, becoming one of the richest and most popular T20 tournament in the world. But the thrill was yet to reach North-East India.
To be honest there were several constraints for the journey of IPL to this reason. No home team, lack of quality facilities to host matches under the lights, security concerns, and most importantly, the climate of Assam during the IPL season i.e. the onset of monsoon made it difficult to host matches on the old ground of Nehru Stadium.
But after the inauguration of the Barsapara Cricket Ground in 2017, the scene started to change. Packed with all the facilities required for hosting international cricket matches, the new ground could bid for IPL matches. But since there was no team in the IPL from north-east India and all the teams already having their respective home grounds, Guwahati continued to remain out of the frame of IPL action.
Now, 12 years after the first IPL season, Guwahati is all set to host its first IPL game in the 13th edition as Rajasthan Royals have agreed to name the Barsapara Cricket Stadium as their home ground for two of their matches in IPL 2020- against Delhi Capitals and Kolkata Knight Riders on April 5 and April 9 respectively.
However, as a new page is awaiting to be attached to the history of Assam Cricket, three petitioners filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) at the Jaipur Bench of the Rajasthan High Court, claiming that shifting matches outside Jaipur would be disrespectful to the state. The court is yet to deliver its verdict but that should not create any trouble to host matches at Guwahati.
Rajasthan Royals playing in Guwahati also means that the spectators may watch the local lad Riyan Parag playing IPL in his hometown. Parag, who was one of the members of India’s 2018 U-19 World Cup-winning team stole the limelight in the last season of IPL, both with the bat and with the ball and would be hopeful of replicating the same performance in front of the home crowd.
After the T20I between India and Sri Lanka last January due to a wet pitch, questions raised over the professionalism of the persons involved in the maintenance of the ground as rainwater leaked through the covers. Moreover, the use of steam iron and hairdryer to dry off the moisture too made to the headlines and put a question mark over the fate of the IPL matches. Fortunately, the BCCI and the IPL Governing Council did not let these factors to sneak in while deciding the venues and handed Guwahati two matches of the season.
There is no lack of enthusiasm among the cricket fans of North-east India and the stadium is bound to be fully packed in both the matches. And as the countdown begins for IPL 2020, fans of the region are eagerly waiting to witness their favourite cricket stars in action.
The writer is an ardent cricket enthusiast and loves to pen down stories from the world of cricket.