The Dr YSR Reddy ACA-VDCA stadium will be becoming the 24th Test centre in the country when it hosts the India-England Test match starting today. And the local organisers are leaving no stone unturned to ensure a hassle-free organisation.
Yesterday they performed a puja, close to the pitch. Key Andhra cricket officials and chairman of national selection panel MSK Prasad were part of the puja conducted by a priest. Indian team’s coach Anil Kumble was seen accepting the prasad.
“The prayers were for an incident-free and calamity-free Test,” said a top official of the Andhra Cricket Association (ACA). “We’re not praying for a favourable result.”
Virat Kohli saw nothing wrong with the exercise of celestial propitiation. “So? Good thing, performing the puja is a good thing. I don’t know why,” the India captain said.
With visible lack of interest among the public, whose disinterest was heightened by the demonetization move, the organisers had reasons to be concerned about the fate of the Test though. Just about half a dozen people, most of them Englishmen, were seen lined up outside the ticket counter and that was not a good omen for the game. The ticket sales have been poor for the Test that is happening for the first time in the city.
If this religious activity on a sporting venue was not enough, organisers raised eyebrows by also building a temporary helipad on a practice ground. This apparently was for the arrival of Andhra chief minister Chandrababu Naidu for the inauguration of the Test.