Meet Wankhede’s unannounced non-player power player

The process started last week, of dusting off the machinery needed to host a high-level evening game at Wankhede Stadium. The Indian Premier League (IPL) will be back on Indian soil after all. But it wasn’t the proverbial cobwebs between the cogs of a wheel that needed cleaning.

Kanwal Netar Satyal, a consultant to the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) in charge of everything related to electricity at the site, had to make sure that the four huge floodlights were free of the eagle nests that had been built. on them.

“It was a new problem, and we had to send four people with sticks on the masts to get them out,” Satyal says. “Their helmets had a pair of eyes drawn on the back. Eagles attack when someone isn’t looking, so those drawn back eyes make sure they won’t attack from behind.

In a stadium that can accommodate 33,000 spectators, the role of Satyal is little known but of the utmost importance. And this is the one that is crucial in the Wankhede hosting IPL matches.

“Is there any supply for the broadcasters? Are the elevators working? Is the current supply stable? Are the back-up generators ready? Is there enough power to support the cameras?… ”The 62-year-old begins to list his responsibilities.

Satyal’s role is crucial in organizing Wankhede’s IPL matches.

Its biggest job, however, is to make sure the projectors are in working order. It is a task that he holds close to the chest, after all he was involved in the design phase of the four masts (searchlights). At the time of the stadium renovation in 2010, before the 2011 World Cup, Satyal was involved in deciding what was needed to light up the stadium and the installation process.

“We had to dig 30 meters underground to secure the base of the 72-meter-high masts. Security was important because the stadium is 200 m from the sea and there are strong winds that will sway them, ”he says proudly of the gigantic facilities. “Each weighs 45 tonnes and has 112 to 118 fittings. And then there are 24 more fittings in other places – six in four sets. This helps in general operations to ensure that all areas of the floor are illuminated. “

In a stadium that can accommodate 33,000 spectators, the role of Satyal is little known but of the utmost importance.

This enlightenment is not only useful until the end of the match. The owners of the Wankhede-based Mumbai Indian franchise Reliance often reserve game day seats for school students. “There was a game a few years ago where some 15,000 students had come,” recalls Satyal. “The problem with kids is that they take a long time to get out. And some are malicious, so they’ll try to hide behind the chairs and things. “Around 1 am the lights were still on and one of the officials noticed it and called me to scold me. ‘Tum murkh ho kya (are you a fool)? The lights are still on. I told him I would call him tomorrow morning. That night, all the students left around 3:30 a.m. The lights stayed on until 4 a.m. once everything was clear. Then I sent a message explaining what happened. A few hours later, I received a message congratulating me on this decision.

If the lights went out immediately or on time, ”he explains,“ then there would have been chaos. But the situations keep changing. There are a lot of post-game activities, presentations and talks. Then there may be some delay, for example, for the folks at Spidercam or the LED advertisers to remove their equipment. So we have to wait for everything. “

Just as important as the post-game stoppage is the planning that goes into the start of a tournament. He explains that work begins at least 10 days before the opening match and that operations must be ready five days before the match. This includes coordinating with the 30 or so staff who report to him on match day. But there have been cases where last minute events were planned at the stadium. As in 2014, when it was decided that the swearing-in ceremony for former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis would take place at the stadium – in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “We were informed just a day and a half before the event,” recalls Satyal.

During his career, Satyal has worked and helped install electrical and lighting systems in cricket and football stadiums in Bhutan, Nepal, Oman and Dubai. He has worked in coal mines, naval docks, maritime linkage in Mumbai and is also a consultant for the Punjab and Karnataka cricket associations. But the Ambala native enjoys his role at Wankhede the most.

Although he is so close to the action, he cannot watch the game as he is constantly moving from control room to control room. He also did not tell most of his relatives that he worked at Wankhede. “Phir log ticket maangne ​​lagte hai (people then start to ask for tickets)”, he quips.

Within days of the start of IPL 14, Satyal’s schedule has tightened as he oversees the final preparations. The time he spends there elicits incredulous reactions.

“People say, ‘arre batti to jalana hai (just turn on the lights),’” he says. “But it is not that simple. It is a thankless job.