Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor has criticised the Kerala Cricket Association after the final between the North Zone and South Zone was washed out at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium here. ‘Express’ has learnt that officials of IMG-Reliance -- marketing partners of the All-India Football Federation -- had inspected the venue recently and are planning to dig out cricket wickets in order to prepare a world-class turf for its league.
They have already signed former French international and Manchester United striker Louis Saha, with superstars David Beckham, Thiery Henry and Raul Gonzales likely to be roped in. For such international stars to play in Kochi, it is a must that the centre wickets get adequate grass cover, sources said. Therein lies the catch. The KCA has invested up to `8 crore for the renovation of the stadium since 2011, after an India-Australia ODI was washed out without a ball being bowled in October 2010.
Raking up the unsavoury past in the relationship between the KCA and Tharoor, who once lost his berth in the Union Cabinet over his alleged involvement in the erstwhile IPL team Kochi Tuskers Kerala, Mathew said: “Those who are trying to sabotage the stadium project are behind such statements. We will come out with proper evidence at the right time to point out who are against the KCA stadium project.”
The KCA’s attempt to build an international stadium at Edakochi, near Kochi, has run into trouble after the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests raised objections citing coastal zone management regulations.