BCCI’s decision to reward the heartland of this cricket-crazy nation with live viewing experiences of International cricket has been one of their smarter moves this year. The smaller stadiums that lie outside the metros of India have been packed to the brim- inspite of the fact that this is a relatively weak touring opposition team. Granted- that the shorter version of the game could have attracted fans even in Mumbai or Delhi, but the sheer horror at the sight of near-empty massive stadiums like the Kotla, Wankhede and Eden Gardens (for the Test Matches) seems to be a distant memory now. Even Sachin Tendulkar’s presence wasn’t enough to convince most cricket fans in the bigger cities that this West Indian team isn’t to be taken lightly.
With stadiums like Motera at Ahmedabad, Barabati at Cuttack and the latest ODI at Visakhapatnam packing in willing sardines like the good old days, the future of the planning commission looks bright- atleast for now. Never mind that the fans are made to feel like they’re being granted access to the single-most exclusive event of the century once they enter the ground. It’s a start.
It is still heartening to be able to hear the roar of appreciative Indian cricket fans screaming their lungs out- at the mere sight of international players prowling the boundary lines.
Having said that, we move to the newest stadium – the one with the least cricketing action in recent years- for the next ‘LIVE’ ODI, with the series still on the line. The 2-1 scoreline will see half of Indore scrambling to reach the stadium well in time, in order to watch an actual series-decider: a rarity in the Indian sub-continent nowadays.
Indore: Cricketing History
Indore is normally associated with the infamous Nehru stadium- whose colorful history puts most Bollywood starlets to shame. Who can forget the 1997 ODI match between India and Sri Lanka was abandoned after the third over due to a ‘dangerous’ pitch? The stadium was then handed a suspension for two years by the ICC for holding matches for two years. The history of this controversial ground was cut short after the last ever ODI staged by them in 2001- where Sachin Tendulkar became the first player to score 10,000 ODI runs.
Hence, duties were then handed over to the next in kin- The Maharani Usharaje Trust Cricket Ground- known post-2010 as the Holkar stadium (the venue for the Madhya Pradesh cricket team’s home Ranji games) The seating capacity of this floodlit stadium stands at around 30,000- par for the smaller cities- after playing host to two ODI games in the last 5 years. Both of them involved India playing England- with the home team achieving a 100% record at this stadium.
More recently, the Holkar Stadium has been known as the (second) home venue for the Kochi Tuskers after the Nehru stadium- with 2 matches being played here in IPL 2011.
True to sub-continental conditions, the pitch has usually been a high-scoring belter of a track- with only one recent batting collapse in the form of the mercurial Rajasthan Royals team crashing to 97 all out against an inspired Kochi outfit. The ODI games has seen India score above 290 in both the matches, and hence one expects the home team to breathe easy after a sapping loss that seemed to have exposed their top order in moderately seaming conditions.
It could be a bit comforting to note that England were mauled 5-0 in 2006 and 4-0 in 2008, the last two series that had a match being played at this ground. The only difference this time- this is not a DEAD RUBBER match, though West Indies would prefer to treat it like one (in the process, displaying their most fearless performance).