Visakhapatnam

City breaks into joy as historic Test begins today

India’s Lokesh Rahul dives to take a catch during a practice session on the eve of the second Test cricket match between India and England at the ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Vishakhapatnam on Wednesday. —Photo: K.R. Deepak  

A decades long wish is finally fulfilled. People of Andhra (Pradesh) in general and Vizagites in particular have longed to see a cricket Test played in the city and at last it is happening and India is taking on the touring England in the second Test of the ongoing series from Thursday at the nearly 25,000 capacity ACA-VDCA stadium.

After hosting 11 ODIs since 1988, five of them at the GVMC stadium, Visakhapatnam has been in the reckoning for Test status since 2008. Thanks to the untiring efforts made by present general secretary of ACA and MP G. Gangaraju, who is also vice-president of the BCCI, a Test match has been allotted at last.

On the eve of the Test, several personalities connected with the game expressed their joy as the biggest event is happening. “It is a historic occasion which we always longed to see”, was the common expression people like veteran sports writer and broadcaster A. Prasanna Kumar; general secretary of VDCA and former Test Umpire K. Parthasaradhi; former vice-captains of Andhra G.J.J. Raju, who is now vice-president of ACA and M.K. Kumar; former Andhra captain M.N. Ravikumar; president of ACA D.V.S.S. Somayajulu; former vice-president of ACA and VDCA P.R. Narayanaswami and former Test wicketkeeper and presently Chairman of BCCI seniors selection committee M.S.K. Prasad. They also wished that former ACA president D.V. Subba Rao were alive as he was always talking about having a Test in the city, and many others.

“This is the logical conclusion of a process that began long time ago when the team of ACA played a festival match in 1953 under the captaincy of Col. C.K. Nayudu to mark its birth, and when Andhra played its first Ranji mach in 1963 under CK’s captaincy. He was the first captain of India and also of Andhra”, Prof. Prasanna Kumar said.

“We never felt that we would watch an ODI or a Test match here in our life time and after the ODIs the Test is also happening”, Mr. Parthasaradhi said. “Our stadium is in excellent shape and we could reach this stage thanks to the efforts made by the late D.V. Subba Rao, G.S.S. Ramachandra Raju, Prof. Prasanna Kumar, Radhakrishna, N. Venkata Rao and Gangaraju and others,” observed Mr. G.J.J. Raju.

It is an extremely happy occasion and one of the happiest moments in his life, said M.S.K. Prasad. “Since the time I started playing for Andhra as an 11 year old, I have been dreaming to watch a Test in our State. Now as Chairman of BCCI Selection Committee and having played for India I am going to watch a Test in my own backyard,” he said.

Mr. Somayajulu was happy to see culmination of efforts made by the ACA for the last two decades and more bearing fruit.

England playing in the first Test on Andhra soil is very special, said Mr. Ravikumar.

Mr. Narayanaswamy, convenor of the stadium committee, recalled the efforts and hard work put in to complete the stadium after the land was made available thanks to the then Collector J.P. Murthy and the then president of ACA P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju. Alan Hearst sent by ICC in September 2007 to verify the facilities for granting Test status, wanted the umpires room and score board on a larger scale and even after this was complied with in three months. But due to many reasons Vizag has to wait for many years.

M.S. Kumar, who is manager of the Andhra Ranji team that just beat Tripura at Valsad, said young players can learn a lot by watching the Test as it brings out the true character of a player.

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Printable version | Oct 31, 2020 1:44:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/City-breaks-into-joy-as-historic-Test-begins-today/article16644479.ece

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