A laid-back town gets a taste of big-league cricket

“The number of two-wheelers and four-wheelers put together would be as much as the population of Dehradun”. That’s one of the popular jokes on the streets of the laid-back town. On Sunday, with the venue that’s never witnessed a First Class match set to stage an international game, it was natural that all roads led to the Rajeev Gandhi International Stadium on the outskirts.

Naturally, just like any other major cricket venue in India, there were long queues of cars on the curvy road leading to the stadium. Many of those who were desperate to watch international stars in persons decided to walk to the venue. All they had to do was walk at least four to five kilometres. But they didn’t mind. No Indian cricketer in action, no problem. It was ironical to see the 25,000-capacity stadium nearly full for a cricket match between Afghanistan and Bangladesh a day after India’s football captain appealed to Mumbai fans to turn up to support the national footballers.

With a hill in the background, covered bucket seats across the stands and with the hilly ranges in the backdrop, the Rajeev Gandhi International Stadium is one of the most picturesque venues in India. But hang on, is that actually the name of the stadium? A slide show in the media centre, however, stated the title of the stadium as the Dehradun International Cricket Stadium. Fallout of the political situation with the change in the ruling party in the state, is it?

If that’s the case, it’s not something new at all. More than a decade ago, the name of the new international cricket stadium in Hyderabad had to be changed apparently due to political insistence. Back then, the HCA ended up losing on a revenue from a sponsor whose who had signed a title sponsorship agreement. When it comes to Dehradun, however, with the state government only having constructed the stadium, even that question doesn’t arise.