India-South Africa series in a limbo as KCA expresses inability to host

The Indian team stand dejectedly after losing the final of the T20 World Cup. © Getty Images

In a recent development, Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) has stated that they won’t be able to host South Africa during their proposed tour of India in March. The KCA has written to the BCCI about their inability to host the series at the Greenfield Sports Hub Stadium in Karyavattom, Thiruvanthapuram, the state association said in a press release on Monday (February 15).

The KCA officials had a meeting on Monday, and it was decided to withdraw from the caretaking agreement they have with the authorities, IL & FS, of the Sports Hub. In the statement, KCA said that the stadium authorities have allocated the ground for an army recruitment rally at the same time as the scheduled series, without informing the association which prompted the state association to drop plans to host the series.

In light of BCCI expressing their dissatisfaction regarding the matter to KCA, the state association has also written to the apex body about their decision to withdraw from the maintenance and caretaking of the stadium.

“KCA had the full support of the Kerala government and the Sports Minister, but schedule clash became the hurdle in hosting the matches. If the state government doesn’t intervene, the Greenfield Stadium will soon become unusable,” KCA president Sajan Varghese and secretary Sreejith Nair jointly said in the statement.

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As reported by Women’s CricZone earlier, BCCI allocated the eight-match series between India and South Africa to KCA and they were waiting for the state government’s permission to host the matches. Recently TOI reported that KCA officials and Kerala government met and permission to host the matches in a bio-secure environment was granted.

“The Sports Hub has been used as a COVID first-line treatment centre till now. We will now have to sanitize the whole venue and make other necessary arrangements. The pitches and the ground have been maintained well despite the COVID situation. So that won’t be a concern,” Varghese, was quoted as saying.

Since KCA has expressed their inability to host, it remains to be seen whether the series will go ahead as per scheduled and if BCCI will re-allocate the matches to some other venue. Earlier, speaking to this website, BCCI and Cricket South Africa (CSA) officials said there hasn’t been any official information regarding the series and nothing has been confirmed yet.

KCA further added that they will lose out on men’s T20 World Cup and IPL matches in light of the current situation. The Greenfield Stadium first hosted an international match when India’s men side played New Zealand in T20I match in 2017 and since then have hosted two more international matches of the men’s team.

India have last played international cricket during the T20 World Cup in Australia in March 2020. Post COVID-19 induced lockdown, the players were in action only in the Women’s T20 Challenge in November 2020 and several invitational tournaments.

India were to travel to England in late August last year for a proposed series, but pulled out of the series citing travel restrictions. Since then, although there have been unconfirmed reports against possible series against South Africa, West Indies, and Sri Lanka, none of them have come to a conclusion.

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