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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Motera Test to begin tomorrow - Gayle starts Test with a 6

You would read more about this place this week – am sure for myself, but for Cricket, may not have heard of this place, which Ejah Fakih would not forget because of his place in history…

It is Motera, a town in Gandhinagar district of Gujarat.  It houses the Sardar Patel stadium where India is to play visiting England in the first test commencing tomorrow.  Sardar Patel Stadium  is one of the premier Cricket stadiums of India – better known as Motera to avoid confusion with another stadium of the same name in Navrangpura locality of Ahmedabad. Sardar Patel stadium is owned by ujarat Cricket Association and comes under the aegis of the West Zone. It is the largest stadium in the state of Gujarat, and has an official capacity of 54,000 spectators. The Stadium is an adopted home venue for the Indian Premier League franchise Rajasthan Royals.  Formerly known as the Gujarat Stadium, the ground was later renamed in tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India's first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. Apart from cricket, the ground has played host to a number of programs arranged by the overnment of Gujarat. As of December 2011, the Motera stadium has played host to 23 ODI matches. In India, only Eden Gardens (26 ODI matches) has hosted more ODI matches than Motera Stadium.  It has not exactly been a happy hunting ground for the home team…..

One is a minnow while the other ruled the Tests more than a couple of decades earlier, but has declined so rapiedly.  In neighbouring Dhaka, another Test match is going on -  a Test series between Bangladesh and the West Indies.  It's a pity it's only two matches long, because getting either of these sides onto the field for a Test is something of an achievement. The West Indies had played only eight Test matches in 2012 before this week, while Bangladesh hasn't played one for 11 months.  Windies as like many other countries, play so much of T20; IPL, Champions League and more – but much less of Tests. 

Be it any form, for ardent fans, it is the game and the records - flamboyant West Indies opener Chris Gayle became the first player to hit a six from the first ball of a test match as he launched his big-hit against Bangladesh on Tuesday. Gayle smashed debutant Sohag Gazi over long-on, taking 18 from the first over but the 21-year-old off-spinner took revenge by having the opener caught for 24.  At draw of stumps, West Indies reached 361-4.  Kieron Powell and Shivnarine Chanderpaul scored a century apiece on the opening day; at  stumps Chanderpaul (123) and Ramdin (52) were at the crease. 

Back to Motera, our last win here came in Dec 2005 against Sri Lankans. The 1st Test here was in Nov 1983 when the mighty West Indies under Clive Lloyd played Kapli’s Indians.  In Apr 2008 Dale Steyn swathed through the brittle batting line up leaving a humiliating innings and 90 run defeat here.  Sadly, Indians were bowled out for a meagre 76 in 20 overs in the first innings.  In all, India have won only three out of 11 Tests played at this ground, including back-to-back wins in 1994 and 1996 over Sri Lanka and a win against South Africa when pacer Javagal Srinath emerged hero on a wearing fifth day pitch and blew away the Proteas for 105 with 6 for 21.

The track for the India-England game is an unknown entity as the entire centre square has been re-laid before the monsoon rains.  There is news that uncapped Ashok Dinda  has been called as a replacement for paceman Ishant Sharma, who is down with viral fever.  However, Dinda, or Ishant – are unlikely to be in the playing 11 as it would be Zaheer and Umesh Yadav – don’t be surprised if India has Ravichandran Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha and Harbhajan Singh too…..

Now concluding with some pieces of history :  Sunil Gavaskar became the first-ever cricketer to score 10,000 runs in Test cricket on this ground – a feat he achieved against Pakistan in 1987. Fifty seven to fifty eight sent Gavaskar from 9,999 to the first 10,000th run in Test cricket.  Sunil Gavaskar was the first to cross that great barrier of 5 digit runs in Tests, considered Himalayan those days……. – the bowler was Paki Offie Ejah Fakih and non-striker Kiran More.  In 1995, legendary Kapil Dev claimed his 432nd Test wicket, breaking Sir Richard Hadlee's record for the most number of wickets in Test matches

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th Nov. 2012.

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