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The Brabourne Stadium was built on a piece of land reclaimed from the sea which Lord Brabourne, Governor of Bombay, presented to the Cricket Club of India after being tempted with an offer of immortality in the bargain. It was officially opened on December 7 1937 following with a match between the CCI and Lord Tennyson's team. The idea that the ground would be the Lord's of India (the Cricket Club of India was regarded as the county's MCC) was the brainchild of a Goan, Neville de Mello. It was as exclusive as its English counterpart and every bit as luxurious - Frank Worrell once remarked that it was the only place in the world where he could watch cricket in his dressing-gown and remove it when it was his turn to bat. It was also a multi-sport complex which hosted international tennis.
But the ground had its problems, mostly notably with the crowds who were often crammed in beyond capacity, and that, allied to constant disputes over ticketing arrangements, led to the Bombay Cricket Association building its own stadium half a mile away.
The Brabourne these days has an air of faded splendor, and although it has hosted the occasional first-class match (Sachin Tendulkar made the first double century of his first-class career during Mumbai's win over Australia in 1997-98). International cricket returned to the venue after a 11-year hiatus, when it hosted five 2006 Champions Trophy games. It was later named a Test venue for England's tour of India in 2008, marking a revival after 35 years.
The Brabourne Stadium has a rich and fascinating history. After it was built,the Pentangular shifted here from the Bombay Gymkhana in 1937-38 and it was here that Vijay Merchant - Vijay Hazare rivalry was played out with no quarter asked and none given. In the 1943-44 final between Rest and Hindus, Hazare parried Merchant's record 250 with an astonishing 309 out of 387, despite which Rest lost by an innings. Hazare
also hit centuries in all his four Tests at Brabourne. Merchant never played a Test here but made over 35% of his career first-class runs on this wicket, including an unbeaten 359 v Maharashtra. Eleven of the 17 Tests here were drawn but there were some tense finishes - in 1948-49 against the West Indies, umpire Joshi removed the bails with 90 seconds left on the clock and India six short of a maiden Test win.
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