Afghanistan vs Bangladesh 2018: A day at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium Dehradun
The temperature has raked up to 39-degree Celsius back in Delhi as I sit to write this piece from Uttarakhand's capital city of Dehradun, Afghanistan Cricket's adopted home and the host to their three-match T20I series against Bangladesh, where the thermometer reads 27-degrees. It's hazy back in Delhi, where I live, here in Dehradun though, there's a light shower.
Though only 250 kilometres separate the cities, there is as much difference between the two places as the respective weathers indicate.
A small city situated in the Himalayan foothills, Dehradun doesn't have much to suggest that it would love cricket as much as it does. There has been a buzz around the city ever since it was announced that it would play host to an international T20 series.
Hoardings have been put up all over the city, every road leading to the stadium is manned by policemen. Thousands of people happily take almost a 45-minute-long walk to get to the ground as vehicles aren't allowed after a certain point. The excitement is palpable.
"We would've loved to watch India play here but an international match is, after all, an international match," my cab driver stated when I quizzed whether he knew about the match. "Sheher se door hai bas stadium, to travelling ka thoda problem hai (the only downside is that it's located outside the city)," he added.
It definitely is an arduous task to travel to and from the stadium, more so if you're an outsider. The local public transport system is not up to the mark and Dehradun being a tourist destination city, the cab charges shoot through the roof.
The first match of the series was marred by mismanagement as well. The journalists, especially those who had come in from Bangladesh, were left hugely disappointed by the arrangements made for the media personnel. There were no power outlets below the desks in the press box to start with, the internet connectivity was poor and arrangements for drinking water were made when the first innings was close to completion.
However, this was only the first international match played at the stadium and organised by a federation which is being forced to play its matches away from their country. The fact that the facility is located outside the city makes their task a bit more difficult.
Moreover, with BCCI promising the Afghanistan Board that every team touring India would play practice matches against them means the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium is set to host many more matches and with time, it could transform into one of the best facilities in the country.