This is an arena with a heartbeat and a soul. It bears the footprints of the greats from the past, has a distinct character.

Those who watched the last Test at Brabourne Stadium can still hear the roar.

“It was here Salim Durrani hit a six, and then he struck another one there,” said an official, who must have been an eager teenager then, moving his fingers.

That, indeed, was a long time ago. The year was 1973 and cricket was a largely semi-professional game played with a wholesome amateur spirit. It was a game played only in whites and only with a red ball. And Test cricket was King.

Ajit Wadekar's Indian team met England, captained by Tony Lewis. The match ended in a draw but whipped up some magical moments. With a spirit that transcends barriers, beanpole Tony Greig lifted the little Gundappa Viswanath of those dexterous wrists after the Indian had completed a hundred.

Test cricket will return to Brabourne Stadium after 36 years when India meets Sri Lanka in the third Test, beginning here on Wednesday.

It will be a meeting of the past and the present when Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Muttiah Muralitharan and Kumar Sangakkara parade their skills at this hallowed venue.

On Monday, Tendulkar seemed to be relishing the Indian practice session under bright afternoon sunshine. It was at this ground that he made a captivating double hundred, taking on leg-spinning legend Shane Warne and setting the tone for the series, in the tour game that preceded the India - Australia Tests in the 1997-98 season.

Watching the proceedings from the club house was the wily Wadekar. His triple hundred in the late 60s here, countering spin greats Bhagwat Chandrasekar and Erapalli Prasanna, is still remembered. Stirring deeds cannot be clouded by mists of time.

Steeped in history, the Brabourne Stadium is bound to inspire the cricketers. The upcoming Test here will be a huge occasion.

Indeed, the final Test promises to be a gripping encounter, notwithstanding Sri Lanka's capitulation at Kanpur.

There should be a measure of pace and some bounce for the pacemen on the first day. The spinners could enter the scene in a big way from day three.

In the ICC Champions Trophy of 2006 – the Brabourne Stadium was one of the venues for the tournament - there was appreciable assistance for the spinners here.

But then, the new ball remains a threat. For India, Murali Vijay looked good at the nets. The opener was moving his feet with precision and timing his shots well.

With the prolific Gautam Gambhir opting out of the third Test due to domestic reasons, Vijay, a specialist, should receive a look-in as an opener. The compact right-hander had impressed with his temperament and balance in his only other Test appearance, against Australia at Nagpur last season.

Vijay has been in fine nick in the domestic circuit. More than the runs that he makes, it is the manner, in which he collects them that is pleasing.

Although he made a fine impression on his Test debut, Vijay missed out on a big score in both the innings after doing all the hard work. He would be seeking to make amends.

There was happy news for Sri Lanka when paceman Dammika Prasad, recovering swiftly from a strained hamstring, bowled at the nets.

Prasad brings with him pace and thrust; attributes that complement Chanaka Welegedera's left-arm variety. A side trailing 1-0 in the series needs to strike early.

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