The pro-Telangana agitation has the Indian Premier League (IPL) running for cover. Worried about the region’s susceptibility to violence, the IPL governing council has now decided to shift all the matches out of Hyderabad.
“It is confirmed that all the matches will be shifted out from there,” IPL CEO Sundar Raman said on Friday.
Earlier, IPL boss Lalit Modi had thrown enough hints on such a move when he announced that the opening match of the tournament against Kolkata Knight Riders, scheduled to be hosted by defending champions Deccan Chargers, had been shifted to the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.
“We will have the gala dinner and the opening ceremony along with the first match. There will be guests from all over and we can’t take a chance with that,” Modi had said back then.
However, in the ensuing weeks, the IPL was further convinced that the current situation in Hyderabad was not safe for the other scheduled matches too. Out of the Chargers’ seven home matches, only five were scheduled to be played in Hyderabad, while the other two were alloted to Visakhapatnam. Once the Telangana issue cropped up, the opener was shifted to Mumbai.
Now, Navi Mumbai will host the Chargers’ opening game on March 12; Visakhapatnam will host two other matches on March 19 (vs Kings XI, Punjab) and March 21 (vs Delhi Daredevils). The rest of the matches will be allotted to a yet-to-be decided venue outside Andhra Pradesh. The Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) in Nagpur, which was earlier scheduled to host three home matches for the Mumbai Indians, could host these matches.
Recently, while Chargers were busy playing a practice match in Hyderabad, agitators barged into the playfield and uprooted the stumps, thus disrupting the match. That forced the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) to cordon off the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium in Uppal and host the Duleep Trophy final without spectators for the first three days. These events further bolstered IPL’s decision to shift out.
Recently, the state sports minister K Venkat Reddy had tried to mend fences by writing to ICC president-elect Sharad Pawar saying “the Telangana joint action committee, which is spearheading the agitation, has assured full cooperation for matches to be held in Hyderabad”.