A big political clout has surrounded the ICC ODI World Cup after the schedule of the upcoming mega-sporting event in India was announced on Wednesday.
From Congress leader Shashi Tharoor to Punjab Sports Minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer, politicians are slamming the Board of Control For Cricket in India (BCCI) for not awarding hosting rights to cities like Mohali, Ranchi and Kochi.
The World Cup matches will be held in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Dharamsala, Pune and Chennai.
5 host cities in BJP-led states
Five out of the 12 host cities are in BJP-ruled States and Jay Shah, the son of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, has come under fire for this reason.
Politicians are accusing Shah of awarding the important matches to Gujarat because of his connect with the BJP through his father.
"It's a long tournament. They could have spread the joy a little better. Thiruvananthapuram, Mohali and Ranchi should have been given an opportunity to hold a World Cup match. It is not necessary for any one venue to get 4-5 matches. This is a big mistake on the part of BCCI," Tharoor said.
While Hayer said that political interference resulted in Mohali not getting a chance to host a World Cup match this year.
Mohali had hosted the India vs Pakistan semifinal during the 2011 ODI World Cup in India but has been overlooked by the BCCI this time.
"The exclusion of Punjab's Mohali from the list of host cities for the tournament was due to political interference. Punjab government will raise this issue with BCCI," said Hayer, who belongs to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
BCCI secretary Jay Shah under fire
Trinamool Congress openly blamed Jay Shah for ensuring that Gujarat gets priority over other states always.
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"Jay Shah - BCCI Secretary & son of Amit Shah - ensures Gujarat gets priority always over other states," alleged TMC spokesperson Saket Gokhale.
BCCI defends World Cup venues
The BCCI in its defence, has said that the venues were picked on rotational basis.
Board vice president Rajeev Shukla said a lot of centres and zones have been accommodated in the recently-released ICC Cricket World Cup schedule, and Mohali, Punjab, not getting a single match in the tournament is because the current stadium in Mohali did not meet the standards of ICC.
"The current stadium in Mohali did not meet the standards of ICC and, hence, was denied matches. But that does not mean it would not be given to them," Shukla said.
Matches in every zone for the first time
Shukla said that this time 12 venues have been chosen for the mega cricket event, something that has not happened before.
"For the first time, 12 venues have been chosen for the World Cup. Earlier, these many venues were not chosen in previous World Cups. Out of these 12 venues, warm-up matches will be held in Trivandrum and Guwahati, remaining venues will have league matches. More centres have been accommodated.
"From South Zone four venues, from Central Zone one venue, West Zone two, North Zone two venues. Delhi and Dharamshala will host the matches (in the North Zone)," said Shukla.
'No pick and choosing'
"No 'pick and choosing' has been done. The ICC's consent is important in finalising the venues. In Trivandrum, warm-up matches have been given, for the first time. It is not that any centre/zone has been ignored. Stadiums have been chosen after a lot of consideration, even in North East Zone, Guwahati got the matches. A lot of accommodation has been done in the schedule," he added.