How a venue came about

Sportstar - - GROUND REPORT MIZORAM - WRIDDHAAYAN BHAT­TACHARYYA

No as­so­ci­a­tion of­fice, no money. But an idea paved the way for the Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion of Mi­zo­ram as it read­ies for its first sea­son of do­mes­tic cricket.

t’s nor­mal,” the driver said as our car is drenched, adding as he pulls to the side of the road: “Please en­joy the wa­ter­falls and let me smoke a cig­a­rette.”

Dot­ted by hills and rivers, the 90­minute jour­ney from Leng­pui Air­port to Aizawl — 3, 715 feet above sea level — is a de­light. To imag­ine cricket in such sur­round­ings is a ro­mance of a dif­fer­ent kind.

Like most north­eastern states, foot­ball has been the heart­beat of Mi­zo­ram. A walk down Chan­mari re­in­forces that point: lo­cals in orig­i­nal Manch­ester United and Eng­land jer­seys, their in­ter­est in the game only in­ten­si­fied by Aizawl FC’S maiden I­league tri­umph in 2016­17.

But Mi­zo­ram is now all set to test the cricketing wa­ters, be­ing one of nine new teams to be in­cluded in the 201■­19 do­mes­tic sea­son by the Board of Con­trol for Cricket in In­dia.

A 26­year wait

Cricket has been played in Mi­zo­ram since the 1970s, started first by non­mizo gov­ern­ment of­fi­cers posted in the state, and the Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion of Mi­zo­ram opened its doors in 1992.

“That was the year when we first ap­plied for BCCI af­fil­i­a­tion. They never replied. But we tried with every pres­i­dent — Jag­mo­han Dalmiya to Sharad Pawar. The Lodha Com­mis­sion came as a bless­ing,” said Ma­mon Ma­jumder, the as­so­ci­a­tion’s gen­eral sec­re­tary, on a rainy evening. He uses his per­sonal sta­tion for meet­ings since the or­gan­i­sa­tion doesn’t have its own of­fice.

K. Van­lal­ru­ata, the Mi­zo­ram skip­per and a steady top­or­der bats­man, walked into the room. The lit­up ham­lets on the other side of the hill cre­ate a mag­i­cal back­drop, but Van­lal­ru­ata’s side is far from match­ing that at the mo­ment.

“There is noth­ing praise­wor­thy yet. Lo­cally, we are good. But go­ing out­side is a dif­fer­ent ball game. To say the truth, ev­ery­thing needs to be pol­ished. We can’t

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