Stadium will be a boon to cricketers

Stadium will be a boon to cricketers

Stadium will be a boon to cricketers

Twelve-year-old Varun always dreamt of playing cricket on turf wickets. But lack of a playground and shrinking space due to boom in real estate business did not allow him to do it.Two months from now, he and many of his peers will not have to look for space to hone their skills as budding cricketers.

For, a new mini-stadium is coming up on the sprawling campus of Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB) Colony in Shastrinagar locality of Patna. Being built at a  cost of Rs 6 crore, the state-of-the-art stadium, with floodlighting facility, is nearing completion and will be ready to host matches by October.

With a seating capacity of 5,000, the stadium is in conformity with the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s  (BCCI) concept of smaller grounds in states for meaningful promotion of the game. The BCCI had in the past argued that smaller grounds with turf wickets cater to the needs of budding cricketers more than constructing international standard stadiums in every part of the country.

The upcoming stadium, constructed on an oval-shaped ground, will be the fourth such stadium in the state capital. In 1969, Patna’s oldest sports ground, Moinul Haq Stadium, was built with a seating capacity of 25,000.

This was considered to be second only to the majestic Eden Gardens in Kolkata in the eastern zone. But after Zimbabwe played Kenya in the 1996 World Cup match at Moinul Haq Stadium here, no international match has been organised. In fact, visiting cricketers have rued how the state mandarins had allowed a portion of the stadium to be encroached upon by the cops where Kadamkuan police station operates from the eastern side. It also houses Central Reserve Police Force battalion, while other encroachments jostle for space with marriage parties hiring the building, or housing the swimming pool at the stadium.

The upcoming stadium at Shastrinagar will have no such problems. The ground will have five turf wickets with newly laid Bermuda grass coming up on surface. It will have a sprawling outer ground, not less than 65 yards from the centre wicket, thereby making it practically fit to host national-level matches.

Former Ranji Trophy player Nikhilesh Ranjan, an employee with the Bihar State Power Holding Company who is supervising the construction work, told Deccan Herald, “The ground as well as the wicket is being prepared with technical consultations with the BCCI. Two eminent curators of the Vadodara Cricket Association – Dasrath Pardeshi and Narayan Satam-- have given us the technical know-how of laying the turf. Ever since the construction work started in September last, the duo visited the ground thrice. Pardeshi is already here to give finishing touches.”

To give proper shape to the ground and wicket preparations, black clay was procured from Punpun (on the outskirts of Patna), while Bermuda grass was brought from Kolkata. “For the outer ground, we got the Selection 1 grass from Kolkata,” he added.

A brainchild of Energy Secretary Pratyaya Amrit, who is credited with bringing in massive transformation in his department, the stadium work kick-started only after the IAS officer consulted international cricketers Venkatesh Prasad and Madan Lal about his dream project. “We have worked a lot on this project and sought suggestions from Venkatesh Prasad as well as Madan Lal before starting construction of this state-of-the-art mini-cricket stadium,” said Pratyaya.

The official said that the ground was well equipped with the rain gun, which, with a push of a button, can sprinkle water on the entire ground in 30 minutes. The water for the ground will be supplied from a water tank on the northern side of the stadium which has a one-lakh-litre capacity.

Since Patna is infamous for water-logging during rains, care has been taken to construct a structure to drain out excess water. To ensure that water flows smoothly towards outer end, there is an 11-inch slope from the wicket to the outer ground.

On the northwest side of the stadium, there will be five practising pitches. “Actually, this ground is dedicated to the budding cricketers. Let them hone their skills here. If this experiment is successful, we will construct such stadiums in other districts of Bihar so that wannabe cricketers don’t have to rush to the State Capital to display their talent,” said Pratyaya.

Eminent doctors here argue that this is a good step as children were, of late, hooked to indoor games ever since land sharks swallowed playgrounds.

For most of the present generation children, outdoor games have become passé. In fact, lack of physical exercise and unhealthy lifestyle are the root cause of obesity among children. Today we have more cyber cafes than playgrounds. So children prefer to surf net or watch TV. Against this backdrop, this is a welcome step that a stadium is coming up in the heart of the town where children could play cricket or any other game,” said Dr RNP Singh, a surgeon at Patna Medical College.

Aware of this fact that most of the Patna schools nowadays do not have proper playground, Pratyaya has proposed ‘pay and play scheme’.

“The stadium will run on a ‘no-profit- no-loss’  basis. We will soon seek a letter of expression for the maintenance of stadium. It will have a five-year contract. We will also introduce pay-and-play scheme but we will keep rates within the reach of the organisation,” he said.

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