World Cup Diary: New-look Eden Gardens ready to be a showstopper
Hallowed venue makes a late entry to ICC World Cup show with first of five games on Saturday, 28 October
Come Saturday, and Eden Gardens will be making a delayed entry as one of the 10 venues of the ICC World Cup with a relatively low-profile battle between Bangladesh and the Netherlands. This will just be the teaser though, with four more matches to follow, including the second semi-final on November 16. And the stadium has put its best foot forward.
Walk into the new-look BC Roy Clubhouse and you will see the difference. ‘’The new-look Eden Gardens, we can assure you, will be a spectacle to watch. Everyone has worked extremely hard to completely refurbish the players’ dressing room, hospitality boxes, and corporate boxes, not to speak of the press box and media centre which were completed earlier,’’ said Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president Snehasis Ganguly, also known to many as the older brother of former India skipper and BCCI president Sourav Ganguly.
The other matches lined up here are Pakistan vs Bangladesh (31 October), India vs South Africa (5 November), England vs Pakistan (11 November) and the second semi-final on 16 November. Interestingly, there is a caveat in the World Cup fixtures which says that the match will be played in Kolkata only if both India and Pakistan qualify for the semis. However, if only the host nation is in the top four, then Rohit Sharma & co. will be in action at the Wankhede in Mumbai.
It’s after 27 years that the hallowed turf will be hosting a semi-final of the 50-over World Cup — after the ill-fated 1996 semi-final between India and Sri Lanka, which was abandoned owing to crowd trouble and later awarded to the island nation. The last time India hosted the showpiece in 2011, Eden had to suffer the humiliation of having the high-profile India-England match pulled away from the city owing to the venue not being ready.
The glittering World Cup trophy made a stopover at Eden on 9 September, when it was unveiled by India’s tennis icon Leander Paes and Jhulan Goswami, the highest wicket taker in women’s ODIs.
Sensing that the venue needed a makeover if it was to stage a serious bid for World Cup matches, the previous regime of CAB (with Snehasis as secretary and Abhisek Dalmiya as president) began putting a blueprint in place during the Covid-19 pandemic. The plans included LED floodlights, revamping the clubhouse interiors such as the hospitality areas, media centre, the hanging press box and two of the blocks which are in need of a complete overhaul.