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Kochi set for opening ODI

By Our Correspondent in Kochi
March 31, 2005 16:35 IST
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The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Kochi is all set to host the opening match in the One-Day International cricket series between India and Pakistan on Saturday.

An expectant crowd gathered at the airport and hotel to cheer their cricketing idols, as the teams arrived in the city on Thursday to a traditional Kerala-style welcome.

Five Team India players -- Rahul Dravid, Irfan Pathan, Mohammed Kaif, Harbhajan Singh and Lakshmipathy Balaji – had arrived in Kochi on Wednesday.

Both the teams are put up at the picturesque Taj Malabar hotel.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India's chief pitch curator, G Kasturirangan, who inspected the preparations at the stadium, said, "The stadium has international standards. The outfield looks really beautiful. We are all set now."

Local curator P V Ramachandran, who worked hard with his team to prepare a sporting wicket said "a perfect ground has been set".

"Now we are waiting for the great cricketing moments," he added.

Ramachandran said groundwork has been carried out on the pitches, measuring 10 ft. in width and 100 ft. in length; from among these pitches, the final pitch, as per the standard measurement of 66 x 8.8 ft., will be used for the match.

"The grass pitch in the Kochi stadium has always been a batsman's paradise," Ramachandran, who was the local curator for ODIs earlier too, told rediff.com.

He added that consolidation and watering of the pitch with a specially-designed mechanized roller would be carried out till Friday evening.

Kochi hosted its first official one-day match during the Pepsi Triangular series, involving India, Zimbabwe and Australia. The only other ODI played at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium was when South Africa toured India in 2000.

Around 100,000 spectators are expected to turn up for the match. Kochi City Police Commissioner Dinendra Kashyap said all security and traffic arrangements for its smooth conduct have been completed.

"We will deploy more than 2,400 cops, including policewomen and traffic policemen, at major points and other sensitive areas to ensure that there are no hiccups on the match day,'' he said.

He said spectators would be permitted into the stadium from 4 a.m. There will be strict checking at the entrance and video cameras, bottles, sticks, cigarettes and matchboxes will not be allowed inside. Metal detectors are also being installed at all entry points.

Chair tickets, priced at Rs 600 and 1,000, have already been sold out. The Rs 2,000, 3,000 and 5,000 tickets at State Bank of India branches in the city too are selling briskly.

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