India v England, 1st ODI, Rajkot

Rajkot stadium ready for proud debut

Among the unique features of the newly-built Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium are the lack of pillars, the canopies and the Lord's-style media capsule

Abhishek Purohit in Rajkot

January 10, 2013

Comments: 28 | Text size: A | A

The stands at the new Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot, January 10, 2013
The new stadium at Khanderi doesn't have a single pillar, giving spectators an unobstructed view of the field © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Niranjan Shah is a busy man, reeling off instructions and overseeing work as varied as setting up a television set, installing electrical equipment and painting walls. The Saurashtra Cricket Association secretary is also an immensely proud man as finishing touches are being applied to what has been a long-cherished dream for him. The SCA's splendid new stadium in Khandheri, just outside Rajkot, is ready to make its international debut. On Friday, January 11, India and England will meet here under floodlights in the first of five ODIs.

Rajkot is usually in the cricket news whenever its run machines Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja make their latest double or triple-hundred. It can now also boast of a world-class international venue. What strikes you as soon as you enter the stadium is the sense of space, something you don't get often in India. Space has been kept in mind everywhere. The stadium capacity has been limited to around 28,000. To facilitate spectator movement, there are several aisles between seat columns and lots of entrances/exits for the three stands. There is also a spacious passage running around the stadium, between the stands and the outer wall, to enable easy movement.

Madhukar Worah, the SCA joint secretary, points out the absence of pillars in the stands, a trend in modern stadiums. "There is not a single pillar," Worah says. "It is to give fans an unobstructed view of the field." The stadium itself has been constructed on a raised plinth, a few feet above ground level. "Wherever you are sitting, you will get an excellent view, even from the lower rows," Shah says.

Worah says the SCA was one of the first associations not having its own ground to take steps towards building one - a policy that paid off when the BCCI started favouring associations with their own grounds when awarding international matches. The SCA itself was tired of having to haggle with the Rajkot municipal authorities for use of the Madhavrao Scindia ground in the heart of the city, where 11 ODIs have been staged. A 30-acre portion of agricultural land next to the Jamnagar highway was acquired around 2004. Construction began in 2006 and the total cost, including land, is said to be around Rs 75 crore (around US$ 14 million). The SCA will soon shift its offices from the cramped seventh floor of a commercial building in the city to the stadium, which has been hosting first-class matches since late 2008.

The complex has two playing fields: the main one inside the stadium, with a 90-yard outfield, and a smaller one outside, with a 70-yard outfield. The latter is used for outdoor nets, and also for district-level matches. The dressing rooms are big and lined with large, luxurious, cushioned seats. There are more than 60 hospitality boxes dotting the West Stand and the Pavilion Stand but the SCA has decided against selling them permanently to corporates and will only hire them out for international matches.There are even plans to have an academy in the future - Worah says young players from around Saurashtra can stay at the ground, till the academy takes shape - but Shah's focus now is the England ODI.

Of course, the inspiration was Lord's. We wanted to create something that stands out. Niranjan Shah on the Lord's-style press box

While giving players and fans their space, the SCA has also made sure none of it is wasted. The area beneath the spaceship-style media capsule, modelled on the lines of the one at Lord's, has been utilised for an indoor nets facility. The image of the media capsule, which Shah claims can hold upto 150 journalists, stays with you when you leave the stadium.

"Of course, the inspiration was Lord's," Shah says. "We wanted to create something that stands out. In fact, there is a different theme to each of the stands." The West Stand has around 20 mini-canopies as a roof, reminding you a bit of Adelaide Oval.

Maintaining the substantial outfield is a challenge in Rajkot, where water is scarce and the ground-water table tends to go dry by February, months before the next monsoon arrives. The SCA has to resort to purchasing water from tankers run by private operators. It's part of life in Saurashtra - Worah says there is no water in his house and he is expecting guests.

Meanwhile, Shah moves around, checking electrical work going on in the media capsule, and keeping an eye on the proceedings in the Saurashtra-MP game, which the home side goes on to win to make the Ranji knockouts. He reaches the scorers' cabin near the dressing rooms, himself lugging a television in, and shouts for someone to come with a set-top box. January 11 is going to be a proud day for Rajkot and Saurashtra, and Shah does not want to leave anything to chance.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (January 11, 2013, 15:04 GMT) to forget that 414 vs 411 epic game!

Posted by   on (January 11, 2013, 8:37 GMT)

@PankajShah: congratulations to you & your engineering/architectural colleagues for designing & constructing such a wonderful stadium. In contrast to so many stadia in India, the spectator areas look spacious, well-ventilated & easily accessible. Nor does the design slavishly copy Lord's (a ground I know almost every inch of, having been watching cricket there since the mid-70s): it incorporates *the best* of Lord's, while eschewing the worst. Shame the new stadium isn't being graced by the presence of Chet Pujara for its debut, but at least Ravi Jadeja's there to fly the flag for Gujarat.

Posted by   on (January 11, 2013, 5:04 GMT)

Lets see what happens on this new pitch and what r our players capable to do

Posted by   on (January 11, 2013, 4:23 GMT)

Our big Hazare and Jadeja were also from Gujarat they would also be proud of some more Cricket stadiums in Gujarat.So far Ahmedabad has proved lucky for us, let us see where Rajkot brings for us. Good to see big crowd in Rajkot welcomed England cricketers.I am in US shall be looking forward to see the first ODI with England in my iPad.

Posted by   on (January 11, 2013, 1:09 GMT)

Who the hell is Irfan Patel and Yusuf Patel? Its like saying Amir Khan Patel or SRK Patel. Looks like whole world is going Patel.

Posted by PankajShah on (January 11, 2013, 0:35 GMT)

It's proud moment for me as a part of structural engineering firm, who have designed this stadium. I have designed and visited it many times. I'm pleased to see it's progress from foundations to debut match.

Posted by FRRR on (January 10, 2013, 23:24 GMT)

india should focus on playing better cricket rather than building stadiums

Posted by xylo on (January 10, 2013, 22:30 GMT)

@ Sudhir65: I don't think cleanliness and organization is the responsibility of a single party. A big chunk of it lies with the spectators as well.

Posted by sansonu2000 on (January 10, 2013, 21:59 GMT)

I will miss this match in Rajkot...would love be there in new stadium as I m from Rajkot...but I m in Melbourne so gonna be there in MCG today for AUS- SL match...! Hope new pitch in this stadium is not flat..n hoping for India's Win..!! good Luck

Posted by   on (January 10, 2013, 19:09 GMT)

It's great to see spectator-friendly stadium design finally making its way to India. One can only hope that other state boards will take a hint and upgrade existing stadia. Of course, as others have pointed out, how well the cleanliness and organization of this new ground will be maintained remains to be seen.

Posted by   on (January 10, 2013, 18:28 GMT)

Very beautiful Stadium !

Posted by NIKHILJOHRY on (January 10, 2013, 17:30 GMT)

its a nice stadium no doubt, hope its lucky for india check out my views on issues indian cricket at

Posted by Melsangy on (January 10, 2013, 17:23 GMT)

I forget to add few on the previous post that came to my mind. Few other good players from Gujarat are Rajesh Chauhan, Vinoo Mankad, Nayan Mongia, Kiran More and if we dig more few others can populate the list.

Posted by   on (January 10, 2013, 17:22 GMT)

its awesome folks..................................

Posted by uchitdesai on (January 10, 2013, 15:58 GMT)

@Rajiv Radhakrishnan: Do you even know after whom Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy are named? Search it for your information.

Posted by Melsangy on (January 10, 2013, 15:53 GMT)

@Rajiv Radhakrishnan, There are many players from Gujarat that have contributed to national team over the years. The basis of selection to national team comes from Domestic cricket played in Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy. These two pillars of domestic cricket are named after two Gujarat Born Cricketers, Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji and Kumar Shri Duleepsinhji. They both were well known cricket players from Gujarat. They started playing cricket even before major Indian population knew about cricket. Over the years Jasu Patel, Karshan Ghavri, Nari Contractor, Sanjay Hazare, Chandu Borde, Ajay Jadeja, Irfan Patel, Munaf Patel, Irfan and Yusuf Patel, Parthiv Patel, Ravindra Jadeja, Cheteshwar Pujara all have been in national team. As Metro areas in India now a days gets more projection in national team you will have to look for the background of many players to see where they are coming from. Gujarat have talents and it will come to national stage in coming years.

Posted by Sudhir65 on (January 10, 2013, 15:33 GMT)

The biggest problem in Indian stadiums, as another commenter has pointed, is lack of cleanliness and organization. Also BCCI will put so many ads including on the beautiful green grass that it will destroy the natural beauty of the green grass and the stadium.

Posted by InnocentGuy on (January 10, 2013, 14:39 GMT)

The tough part is maintaining the stadium. Keeping the place neat during a match, keeping restrooms spic and span. 10 years from now, does this stadium still look as new throughout? If so, then this truly is a job well done and other associations need to seriously consider Rajkot's way of doing things.

Posted by   on (January 10, 2013, 14:07 GMT)

Eventually, it will come down to how clean the food, restrooms, and services are, because I saw one game In Ahmedabad in 2004 and will never go again.

Posted by   on (January 10, 2013, 13:19 GMT)

Replace Gauti with Pujara in the playing XI, immediately to provide some stability to the fragile, unsteady, failing Indian batting line up. There are many more guys who deserve to be replaced, but Gauti is No. 1 in the Q ! ( for exit)

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (January 10, 2013, 12:55 GMT)

I think you are wrong @Rajiv Radhakrishnan - In the past few years a lot of cricketers from Gujarat have made it to the Indian side. In the current team - Pujara and Jadeja are from Saurashtra region of Gujarat. Before that we had the Pathan brothers, Munaf Patel, Parthiv Patel, and Kiran More.

Posted by   on (January 10, 2013, 12:23 GMT)

I think its great for the game. Gujarat don't supply much talent to the national side, never have done really, so this should inspire its people to get to the highest level.

Posted by premendrasinghal on (January 10, 2013, 12:08 GMT)

Why cant we give our own style or design? Why do we copy Lords and Adelaid Oval. If you look at Dharmshala's Stadium it looks realy nice and shows a good picture of Indian design. If something we need to copy is facilities, cleanness, discipline and most important is keep it as good as our own home it is. Definitely its a proud moment for SCA that's the only thing is not in my likings. Good luck to both India and England. Hopefully we will see some good batting from Indian top and middle order.

Posted by bmans on (January 10, 2013, 12:07 GMT)

All the best Rajkot! May this be a lucky ground to India.

Posted by CricketMaan on (January 10, 2013, 11:54 GMT)

Poor Niranjan Shah, along with Lalit Modi he was sincerely hoping for a Gujarat IPL team that will play in Motera and SCA, which is why this stadium was built, though he needs to wait, sure shot that will come in next years, who knows we might have a Gujarat Gladiators led by P Patel and Saurashtra Sons led by R Jadeja playing in IPL 10..LOL..that apart, well done on a very good job, surely this pic looks good and hopefully everyone will enjoy the game.

Posted by realfan on (January 10, 2013, 11:18 GMT)

looks good ground.... but why dont they prepare large outfields like the ones in AUSTRALIA... they will be good to watch... i mean no easy scoring will be there with large outfields , and batsmen are tested for their scoring skills..............

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