Mumbai Police demands high sum for Dhoni’s last game as captain

Crowd management for Tuesday’s warm-up game between England and India A has come under the scanner with the Mumbai Police demanding a huge sum to provide security cover for the match, which is to be hosted by the Cricket Club of India at the historic Brabourne Stadium.

Dhoni will be seen in the captaincy role for the last time during the two warm-up ties against England.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Crowd management for Tuesday’s warm-up game between England and India-A, widely billed as Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s last hurrah as captain in the Blues, has come under the scanner with the Mumbai Police demanding a huge sum to provide security cover for the match.

The first warm-up match, which is to be played before England begins the limited-overs series against India in Pune on January 15, is set to be hosted by the Cricket Club of India (CCI) at the historic Brabourne Stadium.

Soon after the CCI officials received a communiqué from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that it has to make arrangements for the host broadcasters, who is going to televise the day-night encounter to cash in on Dhoni’s presence, the CCI committee was stunned to receive a call from the local police authorities.

Sportstar understands, the Mumbai Police demanded Rs. 60 lakh — its prescribed amount for offering security cover for an ODI or a T20 game — from the CCI. Since the CCI — which is set to lose its full member status of the BCCI once the Supreme Court-appointed reforms are implemented — does not get a grant from the BCCI, the CCI forwarded the police authorities’ demand to the BCCI on Saturday.

The BCCI’s formal response will be conveyed to the club authorities on Monday. According to a BCCI insider, the club has been asked to be prepared to lock the gates and not allow any spectators except members of the club, if the Mumbai police don’t accede to the demand of lowering the fees since it is only a practice match. If the gates are actually locked on Tuesday, it could create a huge crowd trouble.

With the host broadcaster set to advertise on Monday about the match being Dhoni’s last as captain in the India Blues — although the jersey of the team will not sport the national team’s logo — the cricket aficionados are likely to throng the stadium. If they are not allowed to enjoy the action, it could lead to a security issue on the streets.

A similar scenario occurred during India’s warm-up match against South Africa ahead of the World T20, at the Wankhede Stadium in March last year. With the Mumbai Cricket Association having printed only a limited number of tickets, the authorities eventually were forced to open the gates. Still, there were multiple incidents of fracas outside the gate once the entry into the stands was blocked.

At such a short notice, the CCI authorities cannot even get the tickets printed, since it takes at least a couple of days for all the administrative formalities to be completed before the sale of tickets can begin. As a result, the CCI will be left with no choice but to close the gates if the Mumbai police fails to provide security cover.

It seems as if whether you are a Dhoni fan, or a cricket fan, it’s best to enjoy the proceedings on television rather than attempt to sneak in to the Brabourne Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, unless you are a CCI member.