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December 4, 2011
The Orissa Cricket Association (OCA) has asked the BCCI to restore Test status to the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack, according to an association official. Cuttack hosted the first India v West Indies ODI on Tuesday, its first international match in just under two years, played in front of a full house of 45,000.
"We have sent the BCCI a letter," Ashirbad Behera, the OCA secretary, told ESPNcricinfo. "Make us a Test centre [once more]. Tests may not get 45,000, but you will get 50% attendance."
Cuttack had previously hosted two Tests, among 18 international matches, since becoming an international venue in 1982. In the first Test played in 1987, India rolled Sri Lanka over twice on an underprepared track affording vastly unpredictable bounce. The other Test match, against New Zealand in 1995-96, was badly affected by rain, allowing less than 180 overs of playing time.
According to Behera, the letter was sent a few months ago but they have yet to hear from the BCCI. The association plans to broach the matter with the Indian board at the latter's annual award's function that is scheduled for later this month in Chennai.
In the past, some visiting sides have expressed their qualms about having to travel to the stadium from Bhubaneshwar, where the teams usually stay because of the lack of an airport and quality accommodation in Cuttack. But Behera said that thanks to the national highway, the stadium is now only 35 minutes away instead of the hour it used to take. Given the traffic you encounter in the likes of Kolkata and Mumbai these days, he said, that is not much longer than it would take to get to Eden Gardens from the Taj Bengal in Kolkata.
During the ODI on Tuesday, there was a period of concern during India's chase. It wasn't entirely clear what happened, but West Indies captain Darren Sammy called his team-mates to the middle after a disturbance in the outfield. Play was held up for several minutes as a large number of policemen were stationed near the stand where the problem occurred. Behera, though, said that the fans' passion was one of reasons to have more matches at the venue. "The crowd is cricket-crazy but disciplined," he said. "And they will stay until the last ball."
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