Delhi will host the first semi-final of the World T20 on March 30, as originally scheduled. Strong doubts had surfaced about the venue over the past couple of weeks, with talk of the match being shifted elsewhere after the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) had failed to secure a clearance certificate from the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) for one of the Feroz Shah Kotla stands.
The issue centred around the RP Mehra Block of the stadium, which houses the old club house. In a previous case pertaining to the venue, the Delhi High Court ruled that the Mehra Block could not be open to the public till SDMC clearance was granted for the structure. About 2000 seats are housed in the Mehra Block, which is behind the bowler’s arm, which the ICC wanted open to the public for the semi-final. So far in the tournament, the stand had been closed to fans, with Justice (retired) Mukul Mudgal – appointed as the observer by the Delhi High Court for the World T20 matches in Delhi – having said he would only allow the media and cameramen to be positioned in the Mehra Block.
However, on a day full of hectic negotiations, the DDCA finally secured the required clearance from the SDMC in the late afternoon today, thus saving the organisers – both the BCCI and the ICC – the headache of finding an alternate venue. “I am going to give the permission subject to the DDCA signing an undertaking about the conduct of the match. It is now routine,” Justice Mudgal said.
On March 17, the ICC sent a letter to the BCCI, the tournament host, asking for a clarification on whether the Mehra Block was available completely. On Monday, the DDCA approached the court with a petition seeking to open the stand in an attempt to avoid the semi-final being shifted to an alternate venue. On Tuesday, the court told the DDCA that it would not intervene in the matter, and asked the DDCA to deal with the ICC directly. The ICC, PTI reported, then set a Wednesday noon deadline for DDCA to sort out the issue.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.