Rain or shine, ground staff of Hyderabad cricket stadium deliver World Cup-ready pitch

Updated - October 01, 2023 12:15 am IST

Published - October 01, 2023 12:14 am IST - HYDERABAD

The groundstaff of Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium at Uppal with top official K. Durga Prasad and others.

The groundstaff of Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium at Uppal with top official K. Durga Prasad and others. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The first World Cup warm-up match between New Zealand and Pakistan on Friday was an emphatic statement, if it were needed, of the commitment, dedication and sincerity of the ground staff of Hyderabad Cricket Association which steered clear of the politicking in the association and stood focussed on the job on hand — to ensure the best of playing conditions for the teams which will be in action at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here.

In fact, over the years, HCA has always been fortunate to have some of the most committed and selfless ground staff dating back to a few decades, when ‘Pipe’ Gopal was omnipresent at the Lal Bahadur Stadium along with trusted hands like Vittal, Gymkhana for the international and Ranji matches and also at the NFC and ECIL Grounds which are the venues of the now-defunct Moin-ud-Dowla Gold Cup.

That Rajiv Gandhi Stadium is hosting World Cup matches for the first time since it was set up in 2006, thanks to the efforts of former Test cricketer and also former BCCI president N. Shivlal Yadav and his team of HCA office-bearers is no by means an easy task. The ground staff, who quite often in the past have had to work without any pay for months due to reasons beyond their control, had to race against time and battle incessant rains.

“The most difficult phase was when there were rains for almost two weeks last month. It was a demanding task and thankfully we were guided and backed fully by Durga Prasad sir (K. Durga Prasad, former IPS officer who has been assisting retired Supreme Court judge L.Nageswara Rao in ending the impasse in the HCA), says one of the senior ground staff members.

And, there was immense relief among the ground staff at the way play resumed in the Pak-New Zealand warm-up match after a 47-minute break due to rain. The staff was lightning quick, under the stewardship of the seasoned curator Y.L.Chandrasekhar and assisted by his deputy Mukesh Kumar, in ensuring that most of the playfield was covered fully and there was no water seepage.

The new-look Rajiv Gandhi Stadium with the canopy in place on the Eastern Stand and the new floodlights in place (not the towers), the conditions were near-perfect to ensure a smooth start to the World Cup matches. So when Pakistan takes on Netherlands on October 6 at Uppal, fans who missed out on the first warm-up game, can expect an entertaining battle, thanks to these ground staff.

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