The pitch at Jawaharlal Nehru stadium has known to be predominantly batsmen-friendly ever since the first ODI was held here on April 1, 1998. Kerala Cricket Association officials promise a run feast this time as well.
Scores in excess of 300 were piled up in two out of the eight matches held here and on both occasions India won handsomely. In the inaugural match, India scored 309 for 5 against Australia and won it by 41 runs. Though Ajay Jadeja ratcheted up a brisk 109-ball 105, it was the master blaster Sachin Tendulkar who walked away with the man-of-the-match award for his star turn with the ball, bagging five Aussie wickets for 32 runs, which also happens to be his best ODI bowling performance till date. The second match held on March 9, 2000, saw India chasing down a stiff target of 301 for 3 posted by South Africa riding on the 123-ball 115 scored by Gary Kirsten. Ajay Jadeja made sure that he didn’t lose the man-of-the-match award this time as his 92 took India home with three wickets to spare.
The venue has been a happy hunting ground for the host team with India winning five matches losing only to Australia (October 2, 2007) and surprisingly to minnows Zimbabwe (March 13, 2002).
The city had also played host to one of the keenest contests of the sports world – a matchup with the arch rivals India and Pakistan. India won that match held on April 2, 2005, quite comfortably sparking off big celebrations by jubilant fans across the city. Pakistan fell 87 runs short of the target of 282 set by India thanks to a typical Virender Sehwag blitzkrieg of a 95-ball 108. The knock also won him the man-of-the-match award. Incidentally, Sachin registered his second five-for in the ODI career in that match with the figures of 5/50. The increasing acceptability of the venue can be gauged from the fact that it is being selected for a second ODI in the same calendar year for the first time in its history. The ground played host to an India-England match on January 15, this year. That match also saw India piling up its biggest victory margin in this venue romping home by 127 runs. England was dismissed for 158 in pursuit of India’s 285 set up by the half-century knocks down the order by captain M.S. Dhoni and Raveendra Jadeja. The latter also scalped two wickets and was adjudged man-of-the-match.