India has the largest number of cricket stadiums around the globe, in fact currently a stadium is being built in Gujrat which would become the largest cricket stadium in the world. But, that is in the future; if we are talking about the present, India has the second largest cricket stadium in the world which is the Eden Gardens located in Kolkata; it is currently India’s largest cricket stadium. In this article, I would be sharing 7 things which you need to know about Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.
Eden Gardens of Kolkata – 7 Interesting Facts
I have been to Eden Gardens 4 or 5 times, and every time I have entered the stadium, I feel like I am in a treat of history. There are certain blocks in the stadium where the authorities have pasted photos and kept several trophies which the stadium has won in the past. Eden Gardens happens to be the oldest stadium in India and has already gone through 3 major renovations. During the time of 1864 (when it was established), the capacity of the stadium used of 40,000 people, in 1987 it went through another renovation which boosted its seating capacity to 94,000 – 100,000 (at a certain point it was the largest cricket stadium by crowd capacity and it has recently been renovated in 2011; this renovation was done because of the 2011 World Cup in order to meet International Cricket Council (ICC) international standards; this renovation resulted in the capacity of the stadium being reduced to 68,000.
2. The Crowd
The crowd which comes to this ground are considered to be the most passionate crowd in India. There have been numerous cases in the past which support this claim. In 1996, Eden gardens had hosted the 1996 Cricket World Cup semi-finals in which India was up against Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka had batted first, followed by India. The first 6 overs went really well for India after which India saw a tremendous fall when Sachin Tendulkar lost his wicket. The crowd had gone crazy, and they started burning posters within the ground itself; even the police was afraid to interfere in between this incident. The crowd started throwing water bottles onto the ground to show their displeasure which made the match referee take the decision of calling off the match and declaring Sri Lanka as the winner of the match.
3. A Magical ground?
Many Indian and International players regard Eden Gardens as a lucky stadium for them. Our current Indian captain, Virat Kohli had made his first century here. Rohit Sharma has the record of the highest ODI score of 264 runs and this breakthrough was achieved at this very ground. If you are familiar with the concept of follow-on in test cricket, you must know that if a follow on is enforced on a particular team then it is almost sure that they are going to lose the match or it would go for a draw. In 2000-01 Border-Gavaskar trophy India had pulled off a miracle against Australia and it is considered to be one of the biggest achievements in test cricket. A big poster of V.V.S Lakshman and Rahul Dravid of this particular match is pasted on the walls of the clubhouse of this stadium as a mark of respect for this achievement.
4. The home of Kolkata Knight Riders
Since 2008, India has been mad over club cricket. The Indian Premier League (IPL) has done wonders for the Indian cricket team and has made the careers of many Indian cricketers. Our Indian captain, Virat Kohli was picked up by the Indian selectors due to his performance in IPL. Eden Gardens is the home ground of Shah Rukh Khan’s Kolkata Knight Riders. The fans love the team like anything and have always supported it no matter what. I remember in one season Kolkata Knight Riders performed really bad and it was the last game of that particular season; they were going to finish 2nd last irrespective of their win or loss but still, the crowd came to support their team in huge numbers.
5. Prices and when to visit it
International matches are not held very frequently, I believe there are 1-2 matches which take place here annually so getting tickets may be a big problem here. Moreover, international matches are generally of 50 overs and most of the Indians do not prefer to sit for 11-14 hours straight for a game. I would personally advise you to visit Eden Gardens during the IPL season in the month of April, during this time the tickets are relatively cheap and available in quantity so you won’t face many problems. An international match in a normal block would cost you anywhere between Rs. 1500-2000 but the same block would cost you Rs. 500 – 800 during IPL season.
6. Some strange facts
Plastic bottles are not allowed inside the stadium. The reason behind this not to reduce plastic; the real reason is that the CAB (Cricket Association of Bengal) doesn’t trust the crowd of Eden Gardens. In the 1996 World Cup, the crowd had started throwing plastic bottles on the ground as a result of which the match had to be called off. Since then, plastic bottles are banned inside the stadium and only pouches of water are available inside the stadium.
7. Kind of a picnic zone
If you visit the stadium during a test match you would feel like you are in a picnic. The crowd attendance of test matches is really poor and you would find most of the ground empty. If you go to the food stalls you will get 2 eggs, banana, toast and tea for around Rs. 20 (This breakfast meal is very popular in Bengal especially when you are going to a picnic)
Cricket and India go hand in hand. In fact, though the game was originally invented by the British but if we go by the number of cricket stadiums, the zeal and passion for this game it doesn’t feel like that it belonged to the British. Cricket has been under the clouds from the last decade mainly due to cases of match and spot-fixing. The viewership for this sport has gone down by huge numbers around the world but our country has managed to keep the passion for this game intact despite all the controversies. Football or Soccer has taken the world by storm from the past decade and has been cricket’s biggest competitor.
Eden Gardens is more like a heritage for India. It has a great history and the zeal of the crowd who attend matches here has a different level altogether. So, these were the 7 Things You need to know about Kolkata’s Eden Gardens