Ever since the commencement of international cricket in Uttar Pradesh most of the times, the matches have been played at the iconic Green Park Stadium in Kanpur. However, the monopoly will now be challenged next month by the Ekana International Stadium in Lucknow, when the high-tech stadium will host its maiden international game against the touring West Indies.
The newly-built stadium in the state capital has already hosted a handful of domestic games through the last couple of seasons before getting the go-ahead to host an international fixture. Ironically, it took all these years for international cricket to arrive in the capital city despite it having better facilities, connectivity, and infrastructure compared to Kanpur.
Acknowledging the same, a senior UPCA official said, “Well, the Green Park is a historical ground and has hosted many memorable games but it is also a government-owned property. Not to blame anyone but the upkeep there has suffered because of the ownership and the monopoly.”
On the other hand, Ekana has been developed by a private company (and owned on lease from the government for 35 years) and is part of a bigger sports city is designed to act as a one-stop destination for all sporting events in the city. It is also one of the largest stadia in the country with a capacity of 50,000 and modern amenities.
With pitches constructed under the supervision of BCCI chief curator Daljit Singh, the ground is also claimed to have one of the best drainage systems in India with the developers claiming there would be hardly any interruptions in games due to rains or wet outfield. On the other hand, Green Park was criticized for faulty construction of VVIP boxes a couple of years ago.
UPCA secretary Yudhveer Singh insited that Kanpur would not be ignored completely, he explained, “Of course, the Lucknow stadium is far more modern, impressive and well-built in every aspect. But we cannot completely forget Green Park either. As much as possible, we will try to keep a balance. But there is no doubt that the Lucknow stadium would be the first choice if there is an option between the two.”
Lucknow was touted to host a few IPL games as well earlier this year but could not because of the pending a final approval and completion certificate from the government authorities. However, Lucknow has hosted two international games in the recent past, two of them at the iconic KD Singh Babu Stadium – the 1989 Nehru Cup ODI between Pakistan and Sri Lanka and the only Test against Sri Lanka in 1993-94.