Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, VCA Stadium (Nagpur)
Built in 2008

The newly-built stadium at Jamtha has already acquired a reputation of being one of the best in the country.

It boasts of a true wicket, where both batsmen and bowlers can use the conditions to their advantage. The first match that it hosted was the 4th Test between India and Australia (Nov, 2008), which India won by 172 runs. Interestingly, the Aussie spinner Jason Krejza had finished with 12 wickets and Harbhajan Singh with seven.

Spread over 33 acres, it has all the modern amenities, including wi-fi environment and a capacity of accommodating 45,000 people.

Eden Gardens, Kolkata (Kolkata)
Built 1864

One of the oldest stadiums of India, Eden Gardens has been the most revered venue for cricketers around the world. When packed to its full capacity, Eden Gardens is deafened with the roars of close to 1,00,000 passionate fans.

The stadium has hosted 35 Tests and 21 ODIs since 1934 and has been a witness to several glorious moments of cricket.

That miraculous day when India snatched the victory from the jaws of defeat against Australia in 2001 glorified the greatness of the venue even more. VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Harbhajan Singh were the three men who made the Eden Gardens look more beautiful than most stadiums in the world.

The last ODI on this ground was a washed-out affair between India and Sri Lanka in 2007.

The Eden pitch, like most others, has been a little partial towards the batsmen and has produced decent amount of runs. The winter-dew has been a concern among the captains in day-night matches.

Incidentally, only once has a team managed to post a total of over 300 in an ODI and the honour goes to Sri Lanka – they scored 309 against Pakistan in 1997. Two best performers of that match – Sanath Jayasuriya (55 runs) and Muttiah Muralitharan (3 for 40) – are still a part of the visiting team.

Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad
Built in 1982

Sardar Patel Stadium is situated at Motera in the outskirts of Ahmedabad. It has a capacity of about 48,000 spectators.

The last Test played on the venue (Apr, 2008) is something that India will like to forget in a hurry. The Proteas pace attack of Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini and Morni Morkel had bundled out India for an embarrassing 76 in the first innings.

The wicket offered uneven bounce, which the speedsters exploited to the hilt. It eased down after Day-one as South Africa piled on 494 in the first innings, which was followed by India’s 328. Though this track has a history of favouring the spinners, in that match the South African fast bowlers stole the show by picking up 18 wickets and registering an innings victory over the hosts.

Overall, Harbhajan Singh is the second highest wicket-taker on this track with 26 scalps, 10 behind Kumble. Harbhajan feasted on the Lankan batsmen in the 2005 Test, where he ripped through the batting, picking up seven wickets in the first innings and 10 overall.

Green Park Stadium, Kanpur
Built in 1945

The Green Park stadium, situated near the Ganga river, has a capacity of accommodating 45,000 spectators. However, in the recent times it has received a lot of flak for producing under-prepared pitches.

In 2008, it came under some sharp criticism after the Test between India and South Africa ended inside three days. The Indian spinners claimed 14 South African wickets in the match with Harbhajan accounting for half of them. The turn and the bounce were hard to negotiate on the ‘dust bowl’. Critics felt the track was unfit for Test cricket. Hopefully, it will offer a more equal contest this time around.

The lack of facilities for the spectators is also something that the management needs to look into.

But apart from the last match, the track has produced heaps of runs in almost all the Tests (20 in all) it has hosted. In the only India-Sri Lanka Test held here in 1986, 1096 runs were scored by the two teams for the loss of 17 wickets. The grassless, flat track crumbles into a spinner’s heaven as a Test match progresses.

The venue holds a very special place in the history of Indian cricket, as it was here that India registered its first ever Test victory against Australia in 1959. It was the match in which chairman of selection committee Lala Amarnath famously picked Jasu Patel and the off-spinner produced one of the most stunning performances by an Indian slow bowler, finishing with a figure of 9/69 in first innings.

Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur
Built: 1961

The Sawai Mansingh Stadium, located in the Pink City of Jaipur is one of the most improved cricketing venues of India. It underwent a thorough refurbishment in 2005, as a preparation for the six Champions Trophy games it hosted the year after.

While the seating capacity was upped to 30,000, the major enhancement was the installation of floodlights. The venue hosted its solitary Test in 1987 and has witnessed 16 One-day internationals since 1983.

The bowlers can exploit the early bounce before the pitch eases out into a flat batting track. Sri Lankan bowlers, comprising the likes of Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas bore the brunt of the batting beauty when Mahendra Singh Dhoni carted them for 183 in 145 deliveries in 2005.

Though spinners can create some opportunities during the later part of the game, the quick outfield of the Sawai Mansingh Stadium only makes life easier for the batsmen and gives them good value for their shots.

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