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Namaste Ahmedabad: World's biggest cricket stadium gears up ahead of day-night Test against England


AHMEDABAD: Exactly a year after former US President Donald Trump was hosted at the Sardar Patel Stadium, India and England will take the field on Wednesday for a day-night Test, the first international match at the venue since 2014, when it temporarily closed for renovation. With the series tied 1-1 and India in a must-not-lose position, the stage is perfect for a grand opening, which is expected to be attended by 55,000 fans.

Flying into Ahmedabad, even amidst a bit of haze, it is impossible to miss the humongous structure on the banks of the Sabarmati. The roads leading up to the stadium have poles erected on either side reminding the locals that the Test match returns to Ahmedabad after a gap of nine years. Inside the stadium, there are hoardings welcoming the President of India Ram Nath Kovind, the chief guest for
the Test.

With Eden Gardens’ reduced capacity, the stadium dwarfs all other venues. Being in the heart of the city hasn't allowed Wankhede, Kotla, M Chinnaswamy and the MA Chidambaram stadia to increase their capacities. Even the newly-built ones at Dharamsala, Ranchi, Pune, Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati don’t boast state-of-the-art facilities, for players and fans alike.

 Hall of Fame at the Sardar Patel Stadium.

In many ways, the revamped stadium here is seen as a symbol of power in world cricket. For all of India’s financial might, it hadn't boasted a venue like this before.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground isn’t the biggest cricket ground in the world anymore.

The Sardar Patel Stadium takes the front seat with 1,10,000 capacity. And at some point in the near future, the venue will make the history books for the most attended cricket match ever. But more than this, the facilities are the ones that stand out.

Four spacious dressing rooms, an indoor arena to do warm-ups without entering the field of play and a gym have already become players’ favourite. Thanks to the way it is constructed, even fans can get to see the entire ground without any obstacle. With a huge parking space – 3,000 cars and 10,000 two-wheelers can be parked – and 48 exit points, officials say the stadium can be emptied in 10 minutes. In terms of making the occasion memorable, the venue couldn’t have asked for a better match than this one.

Another turner expected

Both teams have everything to play for as their qualification for the World Test Championship final still hangs in the balance. The pitch which sported a greenish look five days ago just has traces of grass as another turner is expected in what is going to be only the second day-night Test to be played in the country.

India, who regrouped after losing the first Test, to win the second by 317 runs, are set to make one change. Local boy Jasprit Bumrah will come in place of Mohammed Siraj as India are set to play three spinners again. But all said and done, the pink ball remains a challenge, especially in the twilight period. It would also be interesting to see if the players face difficulty in spotting the ball in the backdrop that has orange chairs in the first tier.

“It is much more challenging to play the new pink ball regardless of the pitch you are playing on. Especially in the evening, say, as a batting team you are starting your innings in the evening under lights, then that one-and-a-half hours is very challenging. Yes, spin will come in for sure, but I don't think the
new ball and the fast bowlers can be ignored. The pink ball does bring them into the game till the ball is nice and shiny. Something we are very well aware of, and we are preparing accordingly,” Kohli said.