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Pakistan’s historic series clinching win against India on January 3, was at Eden Gardens, India’s most iconic stadium. The match also marked the exact date, 25 years ago, when the first one-day international was played in the stadium – between, of course, Pakistan and India.
Majestic and important… Built in 1864, the stadium was India’s first cricket ground and has been a match venue for nearly every series in the country since 1934. That it shares a postal code with Kolkata’s High Court and the State Secretariat makes it obvious as to how important this stadium is to both state and sport.
A world-class venue… Renovated for the 2012 World Cup, Eden Gardens seats 90,000 fans and is the second largest cricket stadium in the world after the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia. It hosts the Bengal cricket team and is home to the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), owned by Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla. The stadium also sees regular visits by Pakistani swing legend Wasim Akram who serves as the KKR’s bowling consultant.
Cricket’s answer to the Colosseum… They say that a cricketer hasn’t completed his education if he hasn’t played at Eden Gardens. Known for vociferous fans and deafening chants, the stadium is where England suffered losing the World Cup to Australia by seven runs in 1987; where fans burned the stands after India’s batting debacle against Sri Lanka during the 1996 World Cup semi final and where India redeemed itself after arguably one of the greatest come-from-behind victories in cricket against Australia in March 2001.
Gateway to Kolkata… Once the frenzy inside the stadium has subsided, it presents an interesting doorway into the heart of Kolkata, where colonial buildings crowd the streets and the public douses its fervor in the aromas of the spices at New Market or the various delicacies on Sudder Street. If you are worried about a particular match the next day, you will find a few souls at St John’s Church praying for their team to come together; alternatively if you are feeling lucky, there is a race course a few minutes away where you can try doubling down.
In a nutshell… Witnessing a match at Eden Gardens will make you feel as if the stadium has come alive – face paint, flags, drums and chanting even after voices go hoarse; no wonder the crowd here is referred to as “India’s 12th man”. For both cricketer and fan alike, a win at Eden Gardens is unlike any other feather in the cap. n
– Chandra Mouli Chidambaram
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First published in the Real Estate Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on January 6, 2013.