Shillong, Oct 25: BCCI Technical Committee chairman and former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly received a rapturous welcome here today as he was present for the unveiling of the foundation stone of an indoor practice facility and gymnasium.

He was joined at the unveiling by Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary and Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) joint secretary Avishek Dalmiya. Sangma is also the president of the Meghalaya Cricket Association (MCA).

Hundreds of excited children and adults, as well as the Meghalaya men’s and women’s cricket teams thronged the cricket ground to catch a glimpse of Ganguly. The ex-cricketer arrived dressed in a shirt and trousers but quickly donned a sweater because of the chilly weather, of which he remarked in his address to the gathering.

Ganguly said that this season is a “great moment” for the North East minnow states that have been brought into the fold of the Ranji Trophy and Vijay Hazare¬†Trophy where they get “introduced to the big boys of cricket.”

He also felt sure that there is talent in states like Meghalaya waiting to be tapped, saying, “From the East no one expected MS Dhoni from Ranchi to be captain of India for nearly 300 games, so when all of you (referring to the players present) pick up the bat and play for different levels, that is the U-15, U-19, U-23, or the Ranji Trophy, your aim should be to be one of him from this part of the world because there is an enormous amount of talent from this part of the world and it is just the exposure that is required.”

An indoor practice facility has long been on the wishlist of the MCA here in what is one of the wettest places on Earth. It will be built at a cost of over Rs 5 crore and be funded by the BCCI. Land measuring 23.7 acres in New Shillong has been identified for constructing a proper cricket stadium.

Meanwhile, Dalmiya said that the BCCI is aiming to improve Meghalaya’s cricket infrastructure significantly over the next five years in order to help the state catch up in terms of facilities with the rest of the country.

(TSR photo. Sourav Ganguly (left) had just been felicitated by Chief Minister Conrad Sangma (right))

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