Ahmedabad, Nov 14: The Sardar Vallabhbai Patel Stadium here made up for all the cricket it has missed in the past three decades, as the match between Hyederabad Heroes and Lahore Badshahs brought it back to life on Thursday.
The stadium, located in Navrangpura area of Ahmedabad was bursting at seams to say the least with a minimum of 60,000 people witnessing the finals and thousands more waiting outside to enter the ring. “We knew that it would be a full house, but the response has been way beyond our expectations,” said an ICL official. The security too had a tough time stopping cricket lovers from entering the packed stadium.
The stadium which got floodlights installed specially for hosting ICL games this year had hosted its only international fixture way back on November 25, 1981. It was this stadium where the current chairman of selectors Kris Srikkanth and Ravi Shastri made their ODI debuts against England.
That match was low-scoring. India batting first scored a painstaking 146 in 46 overs. England achieved the target in 43 overs and registered a convincing victory. The match particularly was a forgettable one for Srikkanth, who was at his wit’s end and failed to open his account in his debut game opening the innings.
That was some nostalgia, but the stadium on Thursday was packed to the last inch. In a stadium with a capacity of 45,000, till the last count 61,000 cricket loving fans were seen enjoying the game. It was easy to figure out that a majority of them had come out in support of the Lahore Badshahs. One of the major factors contributing to such huge crowds is that the stadium is located in the heart of this city. People from all parts of the city can easily come to Navrangpura area as it falls in the centre.
“We have been deprived of cricket action for a long time and with such frequency (of matches) in ICL, it has been a boon for us,” said Kamal Kataria, a spectator. The team has had a great following in this city and to the crowds delight, Badshahs didn’t lose a single game played in this stadium. Even a match played by home team Ahmedabad Rockets failed to gather this capacity. With 14 ICL 20s games played before the finals, the 22-yard strip gave the crowd enough to cheer about.