Eye on India: Pakistan fiasco just one of BCCI’s many World Twenty20 missteps so far

Dileep Premachandran chronicles the BCCI's organisational failures that have so far characterised the 2016 World Twenty20 in India.

Indian security personnel stand alert ahead of the World T20 cricket tournament at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala on March 8, 2016.  AFP Photo / Stringer
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In his new weekly column, Wisden India’s editor-in-chief Dileep Premachandran takes a look at the sporting scene in India, with a heavy focus on the country’s No 1 sport, cricket.

The last instalment of the India-Pakistan World Cup saga was at The Adelaide Oval on February 15, 2015.

That the game would be played there was known as early as July 2013, when the matches were allotted to various venues across New Zealand and Australia.

If you were a fan hoping to catch a glimpse of your heroes, and one of sport’s most intense rivalries, you had more than 18 months to sort out travel, accommodation and match tickets. Even for bilateral series, Australia and England usually announce dates well in advance, keeping travelling fans in mind.

Pakistani supporters knew on August 25 last year that the Lord’s Test this coming summer – their first in England since the ill-fated tour of 2010 – would be from July 14-18.

Australian fans already know that they will be playing an ODI in the shadow of Table Mountain on October 12.

It is not as though the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) cannot act with some foresight.

Read more: Dileep Premachandran on the 'cosy cabal' that could be cricket's ruin

Also see: Dileep's previous Eye on India – Boxer Vijender Singh does not owe anything to anyone

And for more from Dileep: Mumbai's Shreyas Iyer might be best revelation since Virat Kohli

The last time it co-hosted a global event, the 2011 World Cup, venues were allotted in October 2009.

The first tickets went on sale on June 1, 2010, more than seven months before the tournament began.

Why, then, has the World Twenty20 organisation been in such shambles?

India were confirmed as hosts on January 29, 2015, after an ICC board meeting.

Yet, the venues were not finalised until December 11. The first tickets went on sale in late February, 2016.

The new BCCI dispensation took charge in March 2015. Jagmohan Dalmiya, elected board president, passed away in September, but Shashank Manohar who succeeded him is hardly a greenhorn.

India hosted very little cricket in 2015, so that could not be used as an excuse either.

That the India-Pakistan game would always be problematic was hardly a secret.

Diplomatic relations have been fragile at best for years, and Shaharyar Khan was prevented from having a meeting with the BCCI last October after protesters from right-wing party Shiv Sena stormed the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai.

The Pakistan Cricket Board, understandably, took a dim view of that, and the mood worsened when India refused to play an away series in the UAE that had been pencilled in under the Future Tours Programme (FTP).

Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh, where the BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur hails from, was allotted the game in December. It was a bizarre choice. Though the most picturesque of Indian venues, it seats only 23,000. Kolkata and Bangalore can accommodate far more, as do Delhi, Nagpur and Mohali. Even Chennai, with three disputed stands locked out, can seat 24,000.

In the first week of January, there was a terrorist attack at an airforce base in Pathankot, in Indian Punjab.

In the last week of February, Virbhadra Singh, the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, decided that public sentiment against Pakistan would make it hard for his administration to provide security and logistical support.

It was either a case of very delayed reaction, or extreme opportunism, given that he and Thakur are political opponents.

But it is not just that game being moved to Kolkata – 2,000 kilometres away – which has left fans infuriated.

Those that turned up to watch the first round games at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur could not find any tickets at the venue.

They were informed that counter sales were only there at the old stadium in the heart of the city, fully 20-odd km away from the new one. It does not help that the new stadium is so poorly connected that this columnist once had to hitch a truck ride back into the city.

If the Pakistan games pass by without incident, much of this mess will be forgotten.

But with India scheduled to host more big-ticket events in the not-too-distant future, this should serve as a great lesson in the virtues of planning ahead.

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