Cricket: World Cup ‘power riots’ worry Dhaka

Bangladesh has ordered electricity companies to show World Cup cricket matches on generator-powered public screens in a bid to prevent protests by irate fans if power cuts disrupt TV broadcasts.

Cricket-mad Bangladesh is a co-host of the World Cup, which starts February 19, and Dhaka is keen to prevent a repeat of the unrest during the 2010 football World Cup when fans rioted after power cuts interrupted viewing.

“We have been told to show World Cup matches on generator-powered wide-screens. We are going to organise this because of the prevailing power shortages,” said Manzur Rahman, head of state-owned power company DESCO.

The World Cup cricket matches will last about eight hours, which makes ensuring uninterrupted power supply during the matches in energy-starved Bangladesh an almost impossible task, Rahman said.

“Our priority will be to ensure a non-stop power supply during the Bangladesh matches,” he told AFP, adding the wide-screens would be set up in public spaces so that hundreds of cricket fans could watch the matches.

Bangladesh has chronic power shortages, producing about 4,500 megawatts of power a day against demand of around 6,500 megawatts a day.

During the football World Cup in June and July, thousands of angry fans stormed local power offices and attacked state electricity officials after the power supply went off during matches.

The cricket World Cup’s first game is on February 19, when Bangladesh will take on India at the Mirpur stadium in Dhaka.

Local sports fans are desperate to see their team play on home soil.

Riot police were called in earlier this month to control fans who had grown frustrated in huge queues to obtain tickets.

The national side, captained by superstar all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, have enjoyed a recent improvement in form and hopes are high for success in the group stage matches against major teams such as India and England.

After the opening ceremony in Dhaka, the capital will host six games and the port city of Chittagong will host two matches. India and Sri Lanka are the other co-hosts.