India coach Anil Kumble is “very impressed” with the facilities at the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium in Florida, which is set to host two T20 internationals between West Indies and India over the weekend. This will be the first time India will be playing international matches in the USA. The Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, close to 50kms north of Miami, is the only ICC certified ODI standard stadium facility in the USA and hosted six Caribbean Premier League matches last month.
“I certainly didn’t expect the facilities to be as good as what it is in the United States,” Kumble said in Lauderhill on Thursday. “I certainly felt that it could be a makeshift. I had heard about Florida and this ground, but very impressed with the facilities that we have seen today. It’s the first time that I’m seeing this ground and the wickets are good, ideal probably for a T20, and the practice facilities have been good, the outfield looks fantastic. So all in all, really impressed with the facilities here.
“It’s a wonderful initiative and we are really looking forward to our matches here, it’s going to be a sell out. We know US…the expats and the huge Indian diaspora who are wanting for quality cricket to come to the US. We have played in the past in the West Indies and a lot of Indians come over form the US to watch us. So this is a great opportunity for all of them and I’m sure this is the start of a new beginning in the United States and I’m sure there will be a lot more of the Indian team in the US going forward.”
The two-match series is going to be the first of what will develop into an annual event in the USA as part of efforts to “reach out to new markets and audiences,” BCCI president Anurag Thakur had said. The Indian squad arrived in Florida from the West Indies on Tuesday, before they were joined by T20 captain MS Dhoni and fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah on Wednesday. Even though India won the Test series 2-0, the players from the Test squad are coming with hardly any recent match practice because of the rain-affected fourth Test in Port-of-Spain where the last four days didn’t see any play. Kumble was still optimistic about the confidence the team would carry from his first series as coach.
“Of course the start [of coaching career] always makes it that much sweeter when you’ve had success and I can’t ask for a better set of players in terms of what I want from them,” Kumble said. “They are extremely committed, very disciplined and you tell them what you need and they are ready to put their hand up and do it.
“This is the first time that I’ll be working with MS, obviously we have played together over a long period of time and we had a chat yesterday and today as well. I’m really looking forward to working with him and the new set of boys like Bumrah who’s joined as well. I’ve worked with him in the IPL so it’s nice to be a part of the India dressing room again.”
Describing the shift from Tests to T20s mainly as a “mindset change”, Kumble was also aware of the change they may see in their opposition. Ranked eighth in the ICC Test rankings, West Indies are also the T20 champions and will play under a new captain, Carlos Brathwaite.
“West Indies has always been a tough side, they are the T20 world champions,” Kumble said. “About the shift that we need to make from Test cricket to T20, the West Indies players may not have to do that because some of them are coming straight from the CPL. They are quality cricketers and have shown consistently how good they are and we had a tough match in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup as well. In terms of the quality that we are going to encounter, we are aware of that. It’s going to be a challenge and I think the Indian team has done really well over the last six months as a T20 side as well so that’s something that we are looking forward to.”
The Central Broward Regional Park has previously hosted four T20Is – in 2010, New Zealand played two matches against Sri Lanka, and returned in 2012 for two games against West Indies.