These are pretty interesting times in the world of cricket.
Going into the Mumbai Test, while the Sri Lankans were seeking that elusive Test victory on the Indian soil, their hosts knew that a win here would put them on top of the pecking order as far as the ICC Test rankings are concerned.
With both India and Sri Lanka in running to create history, there could not have been a more apt coliseum for the tussle than the Brabourne stadium.
Founded in 1937 by the then Bombay Governor Lord Brabourne, and built on land reclaimed from the sea, this 20,000-seater may not be a match for any of the modern day state of the art arenas in terms of its capacity or facilities, but the rich history it possesses remains unrivalled in this country atleast.
Its nostalgia extends to pre-independence days, when it used to be the venue for the annual Bombay Pentangular matches between the country’s religious communities.
Gradually times changed and Test cricket in Mumbai shifted to the Wankhade Stadium. Barring a few Duleep Trophy matches or an occasional Ranji Trophy fixture, the stadium had nothing to offer, but some fond memories.
No wonder that the announcement of a Test match at Brabourne after 36 long years was greeted with glee by several old timers, players, fans and journalists alike!
A flag-bearer of the ‘old school cricket’, Brabourne was ushered a rousing welcome into the modern arena by Virender Sehwag’s dazzling 293.
India won and the historic Brabourne provided an apt setting to the ensuing celebrations.
India scaled to summit at the top…and is set to enter the next year as the official Numero Uno in Tests.
Highly deserving indeed. A perfect culmination to the hard-work that has gone in for the past two-three years.
The scale to the summit started as early as the Rahul Dravid era. With Test series victories in West Indies (2006) and England (2007), and a solitary win on a bouncy Johannesburg track sandwiched in between, India, once and for all, laid to rest their unflattering reputation of poor travelers.
Though the process of an odd Test match win abroad had started under Sourav Ganguly, during Dravid’s time at the helm, India became serious contenders for the top honours in most conditions.
Following Dravid’s abject resignation on return from a triumphant tour of England, the mantle of captaincy was thrust on the aging warrior Anil Kumble.
Kumble forged a fine partnership with his deputy and India’s captain for the shorter versions Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the combine saw India record fine victories over Pakistan at home, over Australia in Perth and over South Africa in Kanpur.
Though there were a few blips in the radar, when India suffered defeats to Australia in Brisbane and Sydney, to South Africa in Ahmedabad, before being bamboozled by the phenomenon of Ajanta Mendis to concede a Test series in Sri Lanka, the nucleus of the team was beginning to settle in.
Then in the autumn of 2008, the Aussies came visiting. A 2-0 rout of the world champions ensued, following which Kumble retired and Dhoni took over. And now, in the last 14 months, India are yet to lose a Test match.
In between, India ambushed England at home same time last year before claiming their maiden victory in New Zealand for 40 years in April this year before crushing victories over Sri Lanka at Kanpur and Mumbai sealed India’s spot at the pinnacle.
Meanwhile, another historic stadium seems to be facing extinction. The Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) seems to be on its way out as the new ANZ Stadium looks set to debut with an Ashes Test.
With a capacity of 80,000, the stadium was constructed with the 2000 Olympics in mind, and is one of the modern marvels.
The massive arena is currently open to tourists and, to be honest, it does invoke a feeling of awe.