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Monday, Dec 16, 2019

India vs Bangladesh: Indore responds amidst 5 permanent Test centre discussions

The captain of the cricket team wants the BCCI to identify five proper Test centres in order to build a culture and he made sure it was not construed as a point which was taking aim at the ‘smaller venues’.

cricket Updated: Nov 22, 2019 11:31 IST
Manish K Pathak
Manish K Pathak
Hindustan Times, Indore
A cricket fan (C) waves the national flag during the third day of the first Test between India and Bangladesh at Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore.
A cricket fan (C) waves the national flag during the third day of the first Test between India and Bangladesh at Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore.(AFP)

You arrive in Indore and you are engulfed with noise and chaos. There is the unending jostle, the constant honking and the immensely erratic movements on the street. Nothing is subtle, you can never miss anything if they are trying to get your attention. It is a loud city – all these traits which make Test cricket an immersive experience. When the stands are loud and chaotic, when the noise flows through the galleries and when the spectators demand attention, you know, there is a proper cricket match happening.

Also Read: Kohli creates history after India inflict innings defeat on Bangladesh

People want to be involved in everything if you are stranded on a street lost for directions, just yank your neck around and ask for guidance, you will always find company. Hence, it is no surprise that even when there was a lack of buzz ahead of this India vs Bangladesh match, the stands were noisy when the games began.

“Basically, I am grateful to the cricket fans from Indore and the nearby place. I have learnt that people have come in from faraway places like Jabalpur and Gwalior to enjoy the live excitement of this Test match. Indore and Holkar stadium has been a fantastic stadium for spectator experience, it is a small ground so spectators can get connected with the game very easily,” Rohit Pandit, CAO, MPCA told Hindustan Times.

There is added interest in the crowd turnout in Indian cricket. The captain of the cricket team wants the BCCI to identify five proper Test centres in order to build a culture and he made sure it was not construed as a point which was taking aim at the ‘smaller venues’. Pandit, however, seems quite satisfied with the numbers and the response. Indore was, well, just being Indore.

Also Read: ‘No runs from Kohli or Rohit yet very powerful,’ Twitter hails Team India

“Right now also, almost 12,000 is the official number of stadiums who have entered the stadium. Though these numbers are low if I say in a personal capacity, but still it is not a number which cannot be ignored for an India-Bangladesh Test match.”

There was a sense, that these numbers are put across in no uncertain terms. There was also a sense that it was put forth that spectators would continue to be involved if the venue keeps getting matches. Make what you can of it, Indore in its own loud, noisy way has definitely ticked a few boxes here.

“I am reasonably happy with the support the cricket fans and supporters are expressing for turning out in numbers. If these types of games happen frequently, then the excitement and exuberance of cricket fans would remain extremely high, they would be more connected and this what, we as an association aim for that the stands should not be empty. Players also prefer spectators backing them,” Pandit said, while plugging the interest of the players and the connection with a noisy stand.

Also Read: Shami becomes the most successful bowler in 2nd innings in last 2 years

“Achaa crowd to hai hi bhaiya, itna crowd to Mohali mein kabhi nahi hota, Mumbai bhi kabhi kabhi khaali jaata hai (this is a good crowd, better than Mohali. Even Mumbai is vacant at times),” a spectator said, who was a self-confessed Test fan and who was well-aware of what the discussion is about. As expected, within a matter of minutes, we were surrounded by 5 more people and they started talking about how Indore has always been responsible for memorable matches.

Pandit, however, takes a more nuanced approach. While he believes that the discussion around five Test centres could well be cricket-oriented, but then he also mentions that as a cricket administrator, he was happy with the response.

“There could be certain reasons for restricting the Test matches to certain centres which could be cricket oriented also, but for me as a cricket administrator, I feel that if the local people they are giving the response then we should not deprive them of this pleasure. Rest we’ll see what happens,” he says.

What is going for Indore?

For starters, unlike the several ‘established names’, the Holkar stadium is right in the heart of the city, it is extremely accessible and the ground structure is such that it allows spectators to feel a part of every ball. Pandit reminds us of the first-ever Test match they hosted and how that was a bumper success. It prompted Virat Kohli to laud the city and the Test adoring fans.

Also Read: IND vs BAN Day 3 highlights: Kohli and Co register 6th consecutive Test win

“Our first match against New Zealand in October 2016 saw an average footfall of 24000. And on 2 days, it was a full house, much like an ODI or a T20I. I feel that there are certain features of this stadium which attract spectators – the ticket pricing are almost negligible if we see the efforts which are being put. We do not have a commercial approach, reaching the stadium is pretty convenient, parking places are nearby. Cleanliness and fan experience is the best which we can provide. This is the experience people want and this is what, they do not want to let go of,” the CAO says.

On the pitch

There is a distinct shade of red to the playing surface, a trait which is very similar to the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai and Pandit makes sure to mention that they believe in preparing sporting wickets which is the biggest ingredient for a great game of Test cricket.

“See our ground is small so it gives great advantage to the batsmen, so if we give slight edge to the bowlers by preparing the sporting pitch, the game starts in the balance. Having a red soil pitch in this part of the country is something very difficult. But we experimented with this nearly four year back, we brought the red soil from near Mumbai and we played a lot many domestic games and even the Ranji Trophy final,” Pandit said.

Indore stays with you, it hums when you try to close your eyes, there is life and vigour in the city, there was life and vigour in the stands. Everything is an event, and well, Test cricket is always supposed be an event!