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Flanked by a mosque on one side and the highway on the other, the picturesque Kinrara Oval is a welcome addition to the many venues that dot modern-day cricket's landscape. After the space-age Sheik Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi and the lovely Warner Park in Basseterre, it's Kinrara's turn to bask in the debutante's spotlight, and unlike many of its utterly soulless concrete counterparts, its gives off an impression of space and light, surrounded by trees and with a few mini-pagoda-like constructions that resemble the stands named after the Chappell brothers at the Adelaide Oval.
The Adelaide connection doesn't quite end there either. Les Burdett, the curator in Adelaide, has been entrusted with preparation of the pitches here, and apart from the dodgy bounce that did for Ricky Ponting, he has every reason to be pleased with his efforts. With the players seated on plastic chairs beneath picnic umbrellas, the impression of a laid-back outing in the country is further reinforced. The only thing that isn't idyllic is the afternoon heat, and the humidity that makes you imagine that you're locked into a sauna.
The Oval came into being in 2003, with a team from New Zealand helping out with the turf, and there are now six strips that can be used. The four floodlight towers took just four weeks to construct, and the BCCI have invested the lion's share of the US$ 465,000 spent on them. Sadly though, the whole purpose of the exercise - the lofty aim of spreading cricket's message at non-traditional venues - appears to have been defeated by the lack of public interest.
The capacity is only 4,000, but less than a few hundred turned out to watch. The organisers can only hope that India's marquee names pull in the substantial expatriate population in Kuala Lumpur. The Malaysian Cricket Association remain hopeful that this will become a frequent stop on the calendar, but for that to happen a few more bums on seats would be nice.
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