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Hyderabad Cricket Association says can’t host back to back cricket World Cup games, one is Pakistan’s

With a month and a half to go for the start of the 50-over World Cup and less than a week for ticket sales to begin, there has been another request for a tweak in the schedule, which has already been changed once after the much-delayed original announcement.

The Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) has now written to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) asking for a gap between two games, which it’s now scheduled to host on consecutive days. The Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Uppal will stage the New Zealand-Netherlands match on October 9, with the Pakistan-Sri Lanka fixture scheduled the next day. The latter game was earlier marked for October 12, but was rescheduled to provide Pakistan with enough time between fixtures after their match with India was brought forward by a day. Hyderabad will also host the Pakistan-Netherlands game on October 6.

Hyderabad Police has raised concerns over providing security for back-to-back games, especially the Pakistan fixture.

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India will be hosting the World Cup from October 5 to November 19, and the original itinerary was released with just 100 days left for the tournament. The final schedules for the previous two 50-over World Cups (in Australia and New Zealand in 2015, and in the United Kingdom in 2019) were known more than 12 months before the events.

The original itinerary for the 2023 World Cup has already undergone a drastic change with as many as nine games being rescheduled. The much-looked-forward-to India-Pakistan showdown was initially pencilled at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad for October 15, the first day of the Navratri festival, which is celebrated with much fervour across Gujarat. The clash of dates prompted the game to be brought forward by a day.

Also, Kolkata was earlier scheduled to host the Pakistan-England fixture on November 12, coinciding with the Kali Puja, a major festival in Bengal. That game has now been marked for November 11.

These two modifications necessitated several other games to be moved to fit into the holes left in the schedule. For example, when the India-Pakistan game was moved to October 14, there were three matches on that day, prompting a change. Modifications were also required to ensure that teams had a fair gap between fixtures to accommodate travel, rest and training between matches.

Why the delay?

It’s not known why the HCA waited this long to ask for a change of dates. But The Indian Express understands that it was taken by surprise with the revised schedule and none of the BCCI bosses or staff consulted the HCA officials regarding the change of dates.

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It was Hyderabad Police who told the HCA that they won’t be able to handle two back-to-back games and the security arrangements required, especially for the Pakistan game. Around 3,000 police personnel will be deployed for one game and a large number of police personnel will be stationed at the hotel where the Pakistan team will be put up. The police is learnt to have informed HCA that they won’t be able to provide adequate security for the Pakistan game in case the other game (New Zealand vs Netherlands) is played on the scheduled date.

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It is not clear whether the Indian board will change their dates at the last moment, especially with tickets for the World Cup to go on sale from August 25 in seven phases. Already nine of the 45 league fixtures have seen a change just 10 days ago, and with the tournament almost upon us, it remains to be seen if another modification will be made.

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The delays in announcing the schedule, the revisions, and the late start of ticket sales have the potential to put fans, who want to watch matches at the ground, to great inconvenience. Those who wish to come from abroad will be affected even more. As the tournament comes closer, airfares and hotel tariffs are expected to rise considerably, resulting in a big hole in the pockets of those who wish to experience the World Cup at the various venues.

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