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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Neglected Khulna wants attention

Update : 10 Jan 2016, 06:39 PM

Ever since its inception as an international cricket venue, Khulna’s Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium has always been considered as a back-up option by the Bangladesh Cricket Board.

When Bangladesh co-hosted the 2011 ICC World Cup, the south-western venue was kept as an alternative. Overall, the BCB hosted 12 warm-up games and tournament matches but the SANS was not granted a single one.

Cricket’s governing body in the country has often highlighted infrastructural problems and the unwillingness of big teams as the major drawbacks for not holding regular international matches in Khulna.

However, it appears the board faces no such difficulties to hold matches there whenever it finds no other way.

The upcoming four Twenty20 internationals between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe might have been allocated to the SANS but not before some drama. The four T20Is were initially scheduled to be held in Sylhet but due to some technical issues, they were later shifted to Khulna.

The two main venues of the country – Mirpur’s Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium and Chittagong’s Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium – are currently busy preparing for the forthcoming 2016 ICC Under-19 World Cup so the decision to host the four T20Is in Khulna was perhaps forced upon the BCB.

Hence, the joy of entertaining the Zimbabwean team in four T20Is was obviously lost on Amjad Hossain, one of Khulna’s sports enthusiasts.

“How long will Khulna be treated in such a way?” he enquired this correspondent yesterday.

Khulna is not only considered as a happy hunting ground for the Tigers but a division that contributes greatly to Bangladesh cricket. The likes of Bangladesh limited-over captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza, all-rounder Shakib al Hasan, opening batsmen Imrul Kayes and Soumya Sarkar all hail from this division but the BCB always turns a blind eye when it comes to hosting international events in Khulna.

BCB media committee chairman Jalal Younus agreed that Khulna is one of the best venues of the country but, “The logistic support is weak here, to be honest. The hotels and transport communication is not up to the mark and these problems have been existing for a long time now.

“Other than that, Khulna is a beautiful city. The atmosphere is great here and the people of this region love the game. I wish the concerned authority will take initiatives to improve the logistic support in the city so that it becomes easy to have more cricket here,” said the BCB director yesterday.

Khulna District Sports Association general secretary Kazi Shamim though was not prepared to listen to any explanations as he said, “Khulna gets to see international cricket only when the BCB finds itself in trouble. But if you look into the stats, Khulna has been the Tigers’ favourite hunting ground.”

It seems Shamim has a valid point. The Tigers won the only T20I in Khulna against Zimbabwe and were victorious in all four ODIs against Kenya, Zimbabwe and the West Indies. And among the three Tests that were played at the SANS, the Tigers triumphed once against Zimbabwe, drew one against Pakistan and lost one against the Windies.

However, since attaining international status in 2006, the venue has only hosted eight matches in total, a poor return considering the Tigers’ impressive record.

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