Tens of thousands are expected to flock to the world’s largest cricket stadium on Wednesday, and India’s skipper Virat Kohli thinks England will be intimidated by the experience.
The rebuilt Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, where former US President Donald Trump held a meeting last year, will ensure that half of the seats at the 110,000-capacity venue go on sale every day for the third test.
Crowds did not return to Indian cricket for the second Test in Chennai until this month, as India bounced back from their opening loss, beating England by 317 runs.
With the four-Test series tier at 1-1, Kohli is counting on the home fans to build a pressure cooker atmosphere for Joe Root’s side.
“The crowds are really behind us and the difference … we saw in the second test,” Kohli told reporters.
“That’s what playing at home is all about. It’s not just about the conditions on the field. Fifty thousand people and their energy behind us, it does push you in the right direction and puts a lot more pressure on the opposition.”
Kohli highlighted India’s pride in having the world’s largest cricket stadium – ahead of the 100,000-seat Melbourne Cricket Ground. He said, “The infrastructure is very good and we are all very excited to play here.”
The stadium will receive a Hindu blessing on Wednesday before the game starts.
– ‘Electric’ atmosphere –
Root says his side is looking forward to the challenge.
“I’m sure the atmosphere will be electric. It was great to see fans back in the last game and with the size of this field I’m sure the sound will increase again.
“That’s what you want – be part of these big games in these big stadiums and be part of history, and that’s what this game is.”
The ground has shiny new blue and saffron-colored seats, manicured grass and LED lighting ready to welcome fans and players as India is only hosting its second pink ball test.
After the $ 110 million upgrade, the stadium has hosted some domestic Twenty20 matches, but this will be the first international.
“About 35,000-40,000 people will be expected each day. Of course the numbers will be the maximum when India is hitting,” an official from the Gujarat Cricket Association told AFP.
The former Motera stadium last hosted a test in 2012 when India beat England. However, the tourists won the series 2-1.
The site was razed to the ground in 2015 and took five years to rebuild with doubled capacity.
The new stadium was the pet project of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was chief of state cricket until 2014.
Secretary Jay Shah of the Board of Trustees for Cricket in India and his father Amit Shah, a former president of the JSA and the Home Secretary of India, completed the project.
The perfectly round venue promises unobstructed views from every angle and features facilities including four changing rooms and a clubhouse with an Olympic size pool.
fk / tw / jc
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