Mrunal Manmay Dash

Putting an end to the speculations surrounding the hosting of a T20 cricket match between India and South Africa at Cuttack’s iconic Barabati Stadium in June this year, the Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) on Thursday said that there has been no official confirmation from the BCCI in this regard.

Speaking to reporters, OCA Secretary, Sanjay Behera, said, “The news reports in several print media and web channels suggesting that the Barabati has already been awarded an India-SA T20 match, were actually baseless. It is a fact that we have put our demands before the BCCI for hosting a T20 match against SA. But no decision has been taken so far by the top cricketing body till now. However, we remain hopeful of a positive response from the BCCI,” Behera told reporters.

Barabati had lost out India-West Indies first T20I tie of the three-match series scheduled to be played on February 15 in view of the surge in Covid-19 cases in India. The BCCI was later forced to host the ODIs and T20Is in just two cities – Ahmedabad and Kolkata – in order to maintain a stable bio bubble for players and coaching staff.

“After the opportunity to host the West Indies T20 was taken away from us following a surge in Covid cases in the State, the BCCI wanted to compensate us by offering to host a match during the recently concluded Sri Lanka tour of India. But, we wanted to host South Africa in Cuttack. So, the OCA put forth our demand for the same, the decision on which is yet to come,” Behera concluded.

It is pertinent to mention here that some reports appeared in a few local vernacular dailies and some web channels congratulating the OCA for getting an approval for hosting a T20 match against South Africa in Cuttack. Following the reports, the OCA Secretary was forced to call a press conference for a clarification.

The South African cricket team is scheduled to play a 5-match T20 series in India from June 9 to 19.

Notably, in 2015, angry fans at the Barabati Stadium had hurled water bottles into the filed when South Africa outplayed India to win the T20 series. The match was marred by shameful and unruly crowd behavior due to a lacklustre show by the Men in Blue. The visitors overcame the 93-run target with 17-balls to spare to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.