By Ujjwal Roy
Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], May 18 (ANI): Amid the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Kolkata's Eden Gardens is all set to host the Qualifier 1 and Eliminator matches of the cash-rich tournament.
The last league stage of IPL 2022 will be played on May 22 between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Punjab Kings. The Playoffs stage will kick start from May 24 in Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
"We are all looking forward to it. In fact, we are hosting an IPL after a gap of three years because in 2019 we hosted it last. As you know that for the last couple of years it has been shifted to UAE and even this year also that matches are taking place in Mumbai, so now that things have improved, we are looking forward to it," Cricket Association of Bengal president Avishek Dalmiya told ANI.
Full capacity crowds will be present in the stadium after a gap of two years as the previous two seasons were played inside empty stadiums or had a limited capacity of spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier, Eden Gardens had hosted India's matches against New Zealand and West Indies in November 2021 and February 2022, respectively.
"It's not like Eden is not ready. We have hosted international matches in November. We have been talking to the authorities. We had meetings with the police authorities. Today, there was a PWD visit. Beyond that, we even had meetings with the army and the sports department. So, the preparations are in full swing and there is a huge demand for tickets," said the CAB president.
Talking about the preparations for the matches, the CAB president said that there will be different zones in the stadium for better coordination.
"The state government has allowed full capacity so there is no restriction as of now. The COVID restrictions which were imposed earlier, are no more there. So, we are looking forward to having a full house. Bio-bubble will also be there, last year it was maintained with a 70 per cent crowd in the November match and a 50 per cent crowd in the West Indies match. The mechanism for bio-bubble is already in place. There will be a separate entry for the players which they will be using to enter the ground. We have also made different zones. Zone one is for the players, zone two is for the groundstaff, zone 3 is where the hospitality staff are, and zone 4 is the balance area. This time we will be zones for better understanding," said the CAB president.
"There would be certain hospitality seats as part of the bubble which will be in the C block. The match officials area which was earlier in the clubhouse will now be on the ground. We have removed the roofs of the F, G, and H blocks and there is a little bit of renovation work which is required. Certain seats need to be replaced, which will be done in 2-3 days," he added.
Avishek further said that the lights at the Eden Gardens, which were last installed during the 2011 World Cup, will be replaced after these two Playoff matches.
"We have all the wickets ready. We have atleast three of them ready. We are supposed to speak on the strips because it is something which will lead to anti-corruption issues. We have procured dew covers which will be exclusively used for this time. Another thing is the lights, which were installed during the 2011 World Cup, those will be replaced immediately after these matches. So, these will be the last two matches with those lights. After that, it will be in LED lights with the DMX facility. We will be undertaking many reforms from June 1, like the erection of the roofs, canopies, or be it the interiors of the clubhouse, and installation of the floodlights, to give an international or even better feel," said Avishek.
Regarding the weather conditions, he said, "Weather is not in our hands but we are ready for all the challenges. We have increased the sand content of the ground so it dries up early. We have done the checking of the drainage system and our pumps are being serviced we have complete ground covers, with no holes in them. So everything has been taken care of."
He further said that the tickets for the matches will be available through home deliveries as well as physical tickets will also be available, for which Mohammedan Sporting Club has been approached.
The playoffs will be played in Kolkata and Ahmedabad, with Qualifier 1 set to take place in the Eden Gardens, followed by the Eliminator on the next day. The Narendra Modi stadium will host the Qualifier 2 on May 27. The same venue will host the finals on May 29.
The four grounds used for the matches so far are in Maharashtra itself, namely: Wankhede Stadium and Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai, the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, and the MCA Stadium in Pune. (ANI)