Chennai could lose out on hosting matches of next year's World Twenty20, to be staged in India, if the issue of its three locked stands remains unresolved. That was one of the important points of discussion during a meeting in Mumbai on Sunday between the ICC and BCCI officials, who are also yet to agree on the total number of venues for the tournament. While the ICC has recommended five venues, the BCCI is in favour of eight. A final decision is likely to be taken at the ICC Board meeting in Barbados in the last week of June.
Although no venues were shortlisted, it is understood that the ICC team was specifically concerned about MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai. Keeping in mind that the three stands (I, J, K) that have been locked during the matches in Chepauk in the last three years, the ICC made it clear that matches could not be played in front of empty stands. The BCCI itself is wary of the venue as ESPNcricinfo has learned that Chepauk does not feature in its shortlist of eight venues. Although the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association is trying hard to get the requisite approvals to throw open the three stands, officials have conceded that Chepauk is likely to miss out.
The three stands, which were opened in 2011, were locked and sealed by the Chennai corporation during the 2012 and 2013 editions of the IPL. With the issue unresolved, in the 2014 IPL, Chennai Super Kings played all their home matches in Ranchi. This IPL, too, the three stands remained shut and was one of the main reasons behind the play-off match involving Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore being shifted to Ranchi in May.
At the meeting, the BCCI was represented by an eight-man team lead by secretary Anuraj Thakur along with Sundar Raman, Ratnakar Shetty, MV Sridhar, RP Shah, Amrit Mathur and Hemang Amin. The ICC team comprised Campbell Jamieson, Chris Tetley and Dhiraj Malhotra.
The BCCI informed that the main reason for insisting on eight venues was the volume of matches involved. A total of 35 matches will be played between March 11 and April 3, 2016 to be contested by 16 teams. The BCCI reasoned that if they stuck to five grounds, each venue would end up hosting seven matches per venue which would only make it difficult to fill up the stadium.
An official privy to the discussions said the ICC was happy with the reasons. The twin concerns the ICC had was tackling cost and travel. It is understood the BCCI has given an undertaking to take care of the travel of the teams. The official said the ICC team would now report back to the board to discuss the costs.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo