India vs West Indies ODI shifted to Thiruvananthapuram; official announcement expected shortly
What's the story?
One of the officials of the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) has revealed that the scheduled ODI between India and West Indies for November this year will now be shifted to Thiruvananthapuram rather than be held at Kochi, as originally planned. However, the official announcement of the same is yet to be made from the BCCI, something which would be done in the due course.
In case you didn't know...
The initial schedule drawn up for hosting the West Indies in October and November this year had Thiruvananthapuram as one of the venues for an ODI between the sides. However, the KCA had expressed its desire to stage the game at Kochi instead, which, despite hosting several cricket matches in the past, has staged only football matches recently.
The Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium there has thus been the home ground of the Kerala Blasters side in the Indian Super League (ISL) while having also hosted matches during the FIFA Under-17 World Cup 2017 last October.
The heart of the matter
If the city were to now host a cricket match, the entire stadium would be required to be dug up in order to relay the cricket pitches. Also, there were reservations from popular voices like Sachin Tendulkar and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who feared that the Nehru Stadium in Kochi would lose its sheen in going for a cricket match.
Rather, they hoped that the readymade Sports Hub at Thiruvananthapuram, which had successfully hosted a T20 against New Zealand last November would host the match against West Indies.
West Indies are scheduled to play 2 Tests, 5 ODIs and 3 T20s on their probable tour of India this year, with near confirmation of all host venues coming from the BCCI earlier this week, including the possibility of either of Rajkot or Hyderabad to stage a maiden day-night Test in the country.
There were claims that it was the KCA's ploy to wield its power in politics in order to regain control of the ground in Kochi. Politics in India has affected cricket in the past – most famously during the T20 World Cup in 2016, when India's match against Pakistan was shifted from Dharamsala to Kolkata with the Himachal Pradesh government's inability to provide adequate security – and it would be unfortunate, to say the least, if once again an attempt to gain a political advantage would result in another such incident.