Once bitten, twice shy, the Assam Cricket Academy (ACA) doesn’t want to take any chances as they gear up to host another international game in a span of three months, and ahead of Tuesday’s ODI between India and Sri Lanka, the organisers have engaged pest controllers to spray the stadium complex with snake repellents.
“Apart from fogging to keep mosquitoes away, we are spraying the stadium and the complex beyond with anti-snake chemicals,” ACA president Taranga Gogoi told The Indian Express. The stench of the chemicals surrounded the stadium on the eve of the match.
BCCI joint secretary Devajit Saikia also made his intentions clear as he hopes the ACA get the hosting rights of a World Cup game later this year. “This match is very crucial for the city, considering the fact that the ICC World Cup is fast approaching. It will for sure be closely monitored, and if things go well, the ACA might stand a chance to host a World Cup match.”
Unwanted controversies have marred the Barsapara Stadium in the past. In 2020, the first T20I between India and Sri Lanka was washed out after water seeped onto the pitch despite a three-layer cover. And to make matters worse, the Assam Cricket Association (ACA) officials resorted to using hair dryers, steam irons, and battery-operated fans, among other items, in a futile effort to dry up the surface.
In October 2022, the stadium was in the news for the wrong reasons again after a snake slithered onto the playing area before being guarded out by the groundsmen, resulting in play being halted for about five minutes. The snake came out of nowhere from a small unnoticed pit to scare South Africa pacer Wayne Parnell at the extra cover region. The groundsmen then came and captured it in a bucket.
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If a snake slithering onto the field during India’s innings was not enough, worse was in store when the stadium went into partial darkness during South Africa’s chase, causing a second interruption in the match. The play came to a halt after one of the four floodlight towers went off. All the players went back to the dressing room and it took about 18 minutes for the lights to slowly turn on one by one before play resumed.
The Kamrup administration has announced a half-holiday with government offices and academic institutions to be closed by 1 pm for the day-night affair. And to avoid traffic snarls in the vicinity, the traffic administration has advised spectators to avoid private vehicles, besides allotting a few designated parking spots in the vicinity of the ground.
However the dwindling interest in 50 overs cricket in the age of T20Is is pretty evident from the fact that the match is yet to be sold out, and one might expect a few empty rows when Rohit Sharma walks out for the toss.
“Only 25,000 tickets have been sold out of 38,000,” said an ACA official.