'Fortress' MAC stadium all set to host CSK

All roads leading to the M A Chidambaram Stadium in Chepauk here have been closed and the historic cricket ground looked like a virtual fortress on Tuesday with over 4,000 policemen guarding the premises.

The first match of Chennai Super Kings in the IPL 2018 will be held on Tuesday night under the shadow of vociferous protests against its conduct in the city at a time Tamil Nadu is rocked with wide-scale agitation on the Cauvery issue.

Notwithstanding the tight security, a handful of protesters turned up at the stadium in the heart of Chennai and tried to lock the gate leading to the ground. They were immediately removed from the spot.

Besides the stadium, the five-star hotels, where the playing teams are put up, have also been brought under unprecedented security cover in the wake of renewed threat from fringe groups that they would picket the cricket ground and hold protests in and around the premises.

The groups want the IPL matches to be shifted out in solidarity with farmers in the Cauvery delta region.

The Chennai Police said more than 4,000 police personnel and a team of commandos have been deployed for the IPL duty and a senior police official in the rank of additional commissioner has been tasked with the duty of providing security to the players.

Elsewhere, protests against the Union Government continued with workers of Tamilaga Vaazhurimai Katchi (TVK) attempting to lay siege to the Neyveli Lignite Corporation in Neyveli township.

Ideally, Tuesday's match would have been a visual treat for millions of CSK fans as their favourite team is back up and running on the field after being banned for two years. But, things have turned completely different with the usual excitement of CSK playing in its home ground missing.

Apprehending that spectators could hold impromptu protests inside the stadium like switching on their mobile flash lights and holding placards in support of Cauvery issue, the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) has imposed strict conditions by banning banners, flags, mobile phones, bags, radios, laptops, computers and other electronic devices.

It also warned that those throwing any object inside the stadium and on to the ground will be handed over to the police and will ask fans to report to police or authorities if any person moves in a "suspicious manner".

"Ambush marketing in any form is strictly prohibited and will result in expulsion from the Stadium as per the AIP (Anti-Infringement Police). Spectators are advised not to dishonour the National Flag," the TNCA said in a statement on Monday.

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