CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) had successfully hosted the first two Tests of India-England series earlier this year amid the Covid pandemic. And they will be hoping for another smooth ride when they host 10 IPL matches this year starting with the opener between champions Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here on Friday.
The challenge will be tougher though for the association with more teams, players and personnel involved and the second wave of the pandemic raging on. But TNCA is prepared for it. “We have followed strict Covid protocols and vaccinated all our staff. Members and staff without mask are not allowed entry. If someone’s temperature is a degree above the normal, they are barred from entering the stadium,” TNCA secretary RS Ramasaamy told TOI on Thursday.
Despite all the preparations, the palpable excitement around IPL was still missing with Chennai Super Kings not playing at home. But TNCA is leaving no stones unturned in ensuring a safe IPL for the other four teams – MI, RCB, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders – who will be stationed here for the first leg of the IPL.
The association has also laboured to prepare a ‘sporting’ Chepauk pitch. The Chepauk track came in for some criticism especially after the first England Test earlier this year with not much assistance to either the pacers or the spinners. The second Test was played on a black soil dry turner which India won easy.
The TNCA is planning to host the IPL games on the black soil pitches, which have more clay content. But it won’t be turning as much as it did in the second Test. “We have prepared eight wickets out of which two are of red soil. But we have decided against using the red-soil wickets since they disintegrate faster. We want to give teams sporting wickets so that we can have high-scoring and entertaining games,” a TNCA functionary said.