The Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) has decided to shift the November 1 ODI between India and West Indies from Kochi to Thiruvananthapuram with the issue gaining a political dimension. The decision was taken after the southern Indian state's sports minister intervened in the matter and asked the KCA to shift the venue.
Last week the BCCI's tours, programmes and fixtures committee finalised the itinerary for West Indies' tour of India, which comprises two Tests, five ODIs and three T20Is. One of the ODIs, scheduled for November 1, was to be hosted at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Kochi.
The Kochi ground has predominantly become a venue for football in recent years. It was one of the six venues for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in October 2017 and is also home base for the Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League (ISL). The last cricket match played at the venue, in 2014, was also against West Indies, a big win for the visitors.
Since then, only one other international match has been played in Kerala, a T20I against New Zealand last November at the Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram, which India won. Critics of the KCA asked why the association was so keen to host the ODI in Kochi when another ICC-certified cricket ground was available in Thiruvananthapuram.
As soon as the BCCI announced Kochi as the venue for the West Indies ODI, a number of leading voices in football including Sachin Tendulkar - a co-owner of the Kerala Blasters franchise - raised the red flag. On Tuesday, Tendulkar posted a message on his Twitter feed, saying he had "urged" Vinod Rai, chairman of the Supreme-Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) that is supervising the BCCI, to look into the matter.
"Worried about the potential damage to the FIFA approved World class Football turf in Kochi. Urge the KCA to take the right decision where cricket (Thiruvananthapuram) and Football (Kochi) can happily coexist," Tendulkar