The Chinnaswamy Stadium is all prepped up for the ICC World Cup matches to be played here

The sky over the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium these days refuses to darken at night. With the ICC World Cup just around the corner, the floodlights are often switched on as part of the dry-run for the day-and-night games that will be held here this month and the next.

The historical venue that had its first feel of international cricket in November 1974, thanks to a Test match between India and West Indies, has indeed come a long way. Even that 1974 signpost remains high on nostalgia as Vivian Richards and Gordon Greenidge made their Test debuts here.

Subsequently the Chinnaswamy Stadium witnessed some key moments such as Sunil Gavaskar's last Test innings — a gritty 96 against Pakistan in 1987. The other vignettes at the venue are India's dominance over Pakistan in the 1996 World Cup quarterfinal and Sachin Tendulkar's double century that ambushed Australia and helped M.S. Dhoni's men seal a 2-0 Test series triumph recently in October.

Cut to the present; the stadium is all agog for the World Cup that returns to India after it was last held in the subcontinent in 1996. Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath, two great players who were part of many an Indian campaign in the World Cup, know what it means to be part of the showpiece event. The two, who share warm vibes, have donned the administrators' role with the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA), and the winds of change have swept across the ground.

“The International Cricket Council had a few concerns and those issues were addressed. The ground is looking better. There was some concern about the lights, especially with the use of high definition television telecast and we have addressed that too,” said Kumble, now donning the key mantle of being the KSCA president. Ably aided by KSCA secretary Srinath, Kumble is keen to improve the facilities at the stadium.

A fresh coat of paint has been dabbed over the venue but the intent to go beyond that cosmetic change is deeply ingrained in the minds of Kumble and company. The World Cup is a starter and as Kumble said: “In a year's time, the overall facilities will be much better.” That's good news indeed for the die-hard fan, who is after all the ultimate stakeholder in cricket.


Match PointJanuary 13, 2011