Rajasthan hopes to get ground ready
The Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) is hoping to get the Sawai Mansingh stadium in Jaipur ready for the forthcoming Irani Cup, having got possession of the ground just two weeks prior the match. A long-standing dispute between the Rajasthan Sports Council (RSC), which owns the ground, and RCA had raised doubts over the venue for the season's opening clash between defending champions Rajasthan and Rest of India, scheduled from September 21. However the RSC, after staying adamant for the past month, unlocked the stadium late on Tuesday, allowing RCA to start the preparation.
Matters came to a standstill after the RSC did not renew the memorandum of understanding with the RCA, which had expired at the end of July. Without the MoU, the RCA ground officials were not allowed entry even as the main ground remained unattended. Then on August 15 the RCA organized a public function to mark the Independence Day, but that only "damaged" the ground including the pitch area.
"Since RCA had no access to the main ground for a month and with the rains, the August 15 event and with the pitch remaining uncovered, there is a significant amount of work to be done," one of the RCA officials said. But he was confident that things would fall in place for the match to take place without any further hiccups. "We are hopeful to get the ground back in shape. 15 days is a good time," the official said.
Reportedly Taposh Chatterjee, the head groundsmen at RCA, has already started work at the ground by cutting the grass on the outfield. "The covers are back on place and the little damage that has been done on the pitch square is now been identified by him. The rolling of the pitch has started and we are hopeful to get the ground back in shape soon," the official said.
The official admitted that the only big challenge was the weather. "It has been raining for the last few weeks. But the weather seems to have turned for the good in the last few days. If it remain the same we should get the ground ready soon with all the necessary precautions," he said.
The BCCI has been keeping a close eye on the situation and for the moment Jaipur still is scheduled to host the match. "So far the RCA have said they are willing to organise the match. So we are fine with that as it is their turn," Sanjay Jagdale, the BCCI secretary, who is also convenor of the board's grounds and pitches committee, said.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo