'Player comfort' clincher in semifinal shift

KSCAs best efforts to retain the last-four matches go in vain

Following the twin blasts shortly before Saturday’s match between the Royal Challengers and the Mumbai Indians, the KSCA top-brass including president Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wadiyar and secretary Brijesh Patel, along with members of IPL security consultants Nicholls Steyn, held discussions with City Police officials, who expressed the confidence that the semifinals could be gone through incident-free.

Even after the official announcement by IPL chairman Lalit Modi of the semifinals being shifted to Navi Mumbai, the KSCA made an effort to get the decision rescinded. “We met the Police Commissioner (Shankar Bidari) and he assured us total security in and around the stadium,” Wadiyar said. “By the time we returned from the meeting, the official announcement regarding the matches being shifted had been made.

“I then called (BCCI president) Shashank Manohar and explained to him the assurances given the police authorities. Shashank said he was happy with the arrangements made by the KSCA and had absolutely no complaints, but that as an extraordinary security measure, the semifinals had to be shifted in light of the developments of the last two days.” The morning meeting with the police, Patel added, had centred around ‘securing’ the stadium well in advance of the first semifinal slated for Wednesday.

“We were pretty confident of going ahead with the semis,” Patel observed. “The commissioner assured us that he would sanitise the stadium and its surroundings. He said the police would take control of the stadium and the areas in its vicinity tomorrow morning, and would secure the area until Friday morning, the day after the second semifinal.”

Patel, also the CEO of the Royal Challengers, added, “Bidari also said each and every person entering the premises would be frisked completely. Maybe the bomb they defused near Gate No 1 on Sunday morning made it worse for us. The players also may have expressed their concerns.”

It may be recalled that concerns had been raised by some players on Saturday itself when twin explosions rocked the stadium. The decision to move the semifinals out of Bangalore, it is learnt, was influenced mainly by player-opinion, with their ‘comfort levels’ and ‘peace of mind’ uppermost in the minds of the decision-makers. “The incidents were assessed by local police and the IPL’s security agency as being of a minor nature but they have forced our hand,” Modi said while outlining the reason behind the shift. “This decision is naturally disappointing for the people of Bangalore but has been taken with the tournament’s best interests, and the interests of its many varied stakeholders, in mind.

“The IPL wishes those affected by yesterday’s incidents a speedy recovery. Despite this setback, we’re confident the semifinals and finals will be successfully contested and provide a fitting finale to a remarkable tournament.”

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