Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. Arun Venugopal is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Nagraj Gollapudi & Arun Venugopal
The World T20 2016 could only feature seven venues with the ICC making it clear to the BCCI that if Chennai has to be included as the eighth host city, all the MA Chidambaram Stadium's stands will need to be made available for ticket sales. The I, J and K stands at the stadium have been locked by the Chennai Corporation for the last three years over a dispute with the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA), which runs part of the ground.
It is understood that the ICC has now sent two schedules to the BCCI for approval, one involving Chennai on the venues roster and one without it. An official said the BCCI said it was likely to get back to the ICC by Tuesday.
From the outset, the ICC had made it clear to the BCCI that the locked-stands issue needed to be resolved in order for Chennai to play host to World T20 matches, which would be played in India for the first time. Last week, the BCCI's tournament organising and management committees met in Mumbai to finalise the schedule. That schedule, which was sent to the ICC, had Chennai as a venue, but it is understood the matches marked for the venue did not feature any marquee games.
Anurag Thakur, the BCCI secretary who is part of the management committee, said that although Chennai was not "ruled out", the board was still awaiting the completion certificates from the TNCA. TNCA secretary Kasi Viswanathan said that the association hadn't received any communication from the BCCI on the matter.
According to a tournament official, the ICC was not impressed. In the schedule sent to the ICC, the BCCI had stressed that if the three stands were not available they would assign matches involving lower-profile teams to Chennai. But the ICC officials pointed out to the BCCI that in the past the TNCA had got the requisite permissions to use all the stands to host matches during events like the 2011 World Cup.
The stands, which had been constructed just before the World Cup, ran into trouble only after the tournament. The three stands have been locked during all matches in the last three years, except the IPL game between Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Daredevils in 2013 when the courts granted temporary relief.
For the TNCA to obtain permissions for the stands to be open, it has to, in accordance with the city corporation's rules, create a space between the three stands and the Madras Cricket Club (MCC). The MCC's gym has to be demolished for this purpose, which requires the approval of the heritage committee given that the MCC is a heritage structure. The TNCA is yet to hear from the committee.
According to the official, the BCCI had informed the ICC that Delhi was now in the clear to play host to matches after the Delhi High Court intervened to resolve the disputes involving the Delhi & Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) and various government agencies, which had stalled the granting of clearances required for the Feroz Shah Kotla to host the fourth Test of the India-South Africa series.