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Politics overshadows cricket: Ranji final shifted to Mumbai

Written by: Staff
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Lucknow, Mar 20 (UNI) Less than 48 hours before the big ticket Ranji Trophy one-day final between host Uttar Pradesh and Railways, politics played spoilsport with the UP government cancelling the venue, resulting in the match shifting to Mumbai on April 2.

Even as no senior UP government official was available for comments, the government today suspended Lucknow Regional Sports Officer (RSO) Brijendra Kuril and Sports Department Joint Director D S Chauhan over the controversy.

UP was aiming for a golden Ranji double in the summit clash scheduled for tomorrow at K D Singh Babu Stadium, after their maiden Ranji triumph last month at the same venue.

Talking to UNI, state Sports Minister R K Choudhury claimed he came to know about the cancellation of venue for the Ranji final through media.

''I have sought a clarification from concerned officials for the cancellation,'' he said, adding, the UP sports secretary would be returning to the state capital this evening from Delhi, after which proper action would be taken.

UP Cricket Association (UPCA) secretary Rajiv Shukla said he would raise the issue of ''unnecessary politics'' with BCCI president Sharad Pawar shortly.

Meanwhile, match referee of the scheduled final Sunil Gadge said he would soon be submitting his report on the entire eposide.

''It is an unfortunate day for UP sports lovers,'' Gadge said claiming the organisers had put a good show by holding the quarter-final and semi-final matches in excellent conditions.

Meanwhile, Cricket Assocation of Lucknow (CAL) secretary Adbul Khaliq Khan said politics won again over cricket in UP capital. ''If such things keep taking place, the future of holding any national or international match in UP looks bleak.'' He claimed the RSO conveyed him about the cancellation of the stadium last night on the directive of ''higher ups'' in the government hierarchy.

The government decision was based on the ground that UPCA -- being a defaulter of over Rs 20 lakh -- should not be given any UP government stadium to hold matches.

''If there was any order banning UPCA from holding matches on government grounds, why was permission granted by concerned officials to hold the quarter-finals and semi-finals,''Khan said.

The CAL secretary also questioned why was the decision to deny permission to UPCA taken at the 11th hour despite the same cricket body successfully held the Ranji Trophy Elite final match last month on the same ground.

Earlier, UP government had declined allottment of the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur for holding India-South Africa ODI, since UPCA did not pay UP govt dues of over Rs 20 lakh for using floodlights during India-Pakistan Test match.

Sources, meanwhile, said the suspension of the RSO and another officer, was ordered over how did they allot the stadium for the Ranji quarter-finals and semi-final, when there was a standing order that UPCA would not be alloted any stadium till they clear the dues.

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