The lush green of Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium in Khulna (above) is all set to become the newest Test venue in the world and the seventh in the country. (L) Cricket fans queue up for tickets in front of the Social Islami Bank branch in Khulna yesterday.Photo: STAR
A festive atmosphere has been prevailing over the last few days throughout this metropolis centring around the upcoming Test match and one-day internationals between Bangladesh and the West Indies which begins in four days time at Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium here.
The second Test of the two-match series will begin on the 21st while the first two ODIs of five will be played on November 30 and December 2 at the same venue.
The stadium is set to become the seventh Test venue of the country after it received the International Cricket Council's approval on match referee Roshan Mahanama's recommendation. The former Sri Lanka captain visited Khulna in October this year.
To mark the historic occasion, the Khulna City Corporation has decorated different important points of the city with lighting, festoons, banners and pictures of historical places of the division.
The stadium itself has been given a facelift for the games. At least 36 close circuit cameras and a heavy air-conditioning system have been installed while decorative lights have been put up in and around the venue. Ceremonial arches have been erected at various points on the Jessore-Khulna highway to welcome the guests.
Bangladesh Cricket Board director Syed Zahid Hossain said that they were not leaving anything to chance.
"We are very busy doing the checking and re-checking so that not a single thing goes wrong. We are doing all this to uphold the image of the newest Test venue of the world as well as the country," said Zahid, adding the city would take a look that was never seen before.
The players of both teams will be staying at the newly-built posh City Inn hotel at the heart of the city.
"We are working round-the-clock with 10 groundsmen to keep the outfield and wicket fit. The media box and the TV commentary room are ready for the occasion," Abdus Sattar Kochi, the venue manager, said. He also informed that over 10,000 spectators are expected to watch the match from inside the stadium.
The holding of international matches at their own backyard has created huge enthusiasm among the young generation in the city and they can't wait for the moment to come.
"I am waiting to buy tickets. This is a long-time dream of mine that I, along with my friends, will enjoy the match from the stands," said Sumona Hossain, a second year student of BBA at Khulna University.
Navid Anjum Abir, a third year student of the city's Azam Khan Govern-ment Commerce College, said, "I am now waiting for the moment to see with my eyes Shakib, Naeem and Shohag play. I have never seen an international cricket match from the stadium. It would be a unique opportunity for me."
"My family is also interested to see the Test match but when I think about the dilapidated condition of around 20-25 kilometres of road from Jessore to Khulna I become afraid," Mohitul Islam Montu, a businessmen from Jessore, said this correspondent over phone.
Meanwhile, ticket sales for the Test match have begun yesterday at the corporate branch of Social Islami Bank in the city and at the Khulna District Stadium counters. Tickets for the ODIs will be available from November 27.
Long queues were seen at the ticket counters from early in the morning. And Tamim Iqbal, a student of the Khulna University, was over the moon after obtaining two tickets. The namesake of the Bangladeshi opener was standing for long since early in the morning and managed to buy two tickets.
"I am very happy because I got the tickets. It was my dream that I would see my favourite stars play at the Abu Naser Stadium," he said.