Waterlogged Fatullah ground could lose Australia tour game

An inundated Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium as seen from the ground's southern stands Firoz Ahmed/The Daily Star

The Bangladesh Cricket Board faces a race against time to host Australia's practice match later this month at the Fatullah Cricket Stadium, which has been inundated with contaminated water. The BCB is now looking at Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protisthan or Sylhet as back-up venues for the two-day practice match scheduled for August 22 and 23.

Over the last few months, contaminated water from adjoining factories has leaked into the ground and its surrounding premises. Seasonal rainfall has compounded the problem, with large parts of the ground and its surrounding premises waterlogged. The weather has also hampered the BCB's efforts to drain out the excess water through the installation of pumps. The National Sports Council, the government body that effectively owns and maintains all sporting venues in the country, including Fatullah, has been criticised for its lack of initiative in dealing with the problem.

Jalal Yunus, the BCB's media committee chairman, said on Saturday that the BCB will discuss alternative venues with another Cricket Australia security team that arrives on August 15, three days before the full touring party is set to reach Dhaka.

"We are still trying to get Fatullah ready," Yunus said. "We are using pumps to drain out the water. Fatullah was set as the venue for the practice match almost a year ago, when we had done the tour MoU with Cricket Australia. As the rain falls every day, the situation is becoming more delicate. The possibility [of holding the match in Fatullah] is falling, but we are thinking of alternative venues like the BKSP.

"We will hold talks with CA's security team about the venue, whether we can have it somewhere other than Fatullah. If we can shorten the travel time to BKSP, maybe there can be a solution. Sylhet is also an option but we have to see how viable it can be."

BKSP, Bangladesh's largest sporting institute, has three cricket grounds, one of which has hosted practice matches for touring sides in the past. But it is 36km north of Australia's team hotel in Dhaka, and would take at least 90 minutes to reach. Fatullah is 25.5km to the south of the team hotel in Dhaka, while Sylhet, which hosted matches during the 2014 ICC World T20s, lies 240 kms to the east of the capital.