Kochi hopeful of getting Test status

Published: Saturday, April 23, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Kochi:How long will Kerala wait for a Test venue status?

Will the multi-purpose Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium, which has successfully conducted four One-day matches including the recent India-Pakistan encounter, host a Test in the near future?

These questions are uppermost in the minds of cricket fans in Kochi, the commercial capital of Kerala.

If the stadium, which is owned by Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA), is allotted to Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) for a long term lease, it could be made a Test centre, KCA secretary S Haridas said.

Haridas said it would not be possible to get approval from the BCCI for holding Test matches if the stadium was given for two or three months, he said adding the stadium should be given for long lease.

"If the project works, then we will have to lay 'pucca' wicket and improve facilities at the media centre, dressing rooms and pavilion," he said.

KCA had spent over Rs 25 lakh for renovation of the stadium for the India-Pakistan one-day held here on April 2, Haridas said.

KCA held preliminary discussions with the GCDA officials sometimes back in this regard, he said adding if they get a concrete proposal from GCDA authorities, the same could be discussed at the KCA's next meeting and a decision on the take over could be taken.

At present, the stadium has been chosen for hosting only One-day matches and the stadium has proved a lucky one for India, he said adding out of the four One-dayers held at this massive stadium so far, luck had smiled on the hosts thrice and only once luck deserted them in the match against Zimbabwe in 2001-02.

Pointing out that floodlights at the stadium needs to be upgraded to conduct day-night cricket matches, Haridas said Kochi was getting a match once in two-three years and "if we upgrade our floodlights and other facilities including dressing rooms, pavillion, media room, it would enable us to get one match every year."

The coming of international cricket matches to Kerala has had its effect on the state as many youngsters came up with good performances, Haridas said adding KCA's medium pacer Sreeshanth and Ranji captain Sreekumar Nair played for India 'A' team while Rohan Prem was in the under-19 national team and played a One-day match against England.

Raify Vincent, another player, had played for under-19 last year, he said.

"The entry of medium pacer Tinu Yohannan into the Indian squad had inspired many youngsters who had taken up this sports," he said.

The first international match that was played at the stadium was the India-Australia Pepsi Triangular Series in 1997-98, in which India had convincingly won. In 1999-2000, India snatched victory against South Africa but Zimbabwe shocked the hosts in 2001-02.

The stadium, situated in the heart of the city had conducted several international meets including the prestigious Nehru Gold Cup football tournament and in the semi-final match between India and Iran, a record over a lakh spectators had come to watch the absorbing encounter.

The stadium had been the venue of several Ranji trophy and Deodhar trophy matches besides athletic championships.

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