Uncertainty grows over Delhi WT20 semi-final
The Delhi High Court has refused to permit the contentious RP Mehra Block of the Feroz Shah Kotla ground to be used for the first semi-finals of the World Twenty20, on March 30. This puts a question mark over the match venue, and officials of the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) are due to meet the ICC on Wednesday to try and resolve the issue.
On Monday the DDCA approached the court with a petition seeking to open the stand, in an attempt to avoid the semi-final being shifted to an alternate venue if the issue related to the Mehra Block was not resolved.
Ravinder Manchanda, the DDCA treasurer, meanwhile said that the DDCA had sent a letter to Justice (retired) Mukul Mudgal, appointed as the observer by the court for the World T20 matches in Delhi, assuring him the safety of the Mehra Block. "We have withdrawn the petition. We have given an undertaking to the Justice Mudgal as far as safety of the structure is concerned, and the safety and security of the spectators is concerned. Justice Mudgal would do the needful now," Manchanda told ESPNcricinfo.
The court had, in an earlier oral order, said that the Mehra Block would remain an unauthorised structure until the DDCA had got the clearance from the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC). On Tuesday, the court reiterated that stand when it told DDCA that it would not open the Block for public use unless the SDMC granted the completion certificate.
The court also reminded the DDCA counsels that Justice Mudgal was not there to give clearances, and it was the SDMC approval that the court wanted to see. "We can't grant use of any building without completion certificate," a two-judge division bench of the High Court told the DDCA counsel. Duly the DDCA withdrew its petition.
According to a key official involved with the conduct of matches in Delhi, Justice Mudgal is highly unlikely to change his stance on the Mehra Block. "Since it [Mehra Block] is not an authorised structure, Mudgal has not permitted anyone else except the media. And that, too, because the angle of the cameras cannot change. The stand is right behind the bowler's arm," the official said.
The official also clarified that Mudgal had not raised any issue with respect to hoardings in front of the Mehra block as certain media reports indicated. "He only said no person would be allowed there except for media," the official said. It is understood that Mudgal made his stand clear to ICC chief executive Dave Richardson recently.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo