India v Australia, 4th ODI, Chandigarh October 7, 2007

International cricket returns to Sector 16

The last time an international game was played at the Sector 16 Stadium was nearly 15 years ago, when Sachin Tendulkar was 20 years old and had not yet opened the innings for India



The Sector 16 Stadium in Chandigarh is all ready to host an international game again © Cricinfo

The last time an international game was played at the Sector 16 Stadium, Sachin Tendulkar was 20 years old and had not yet opened the innings for India. That was nearly 15 years ago, when India beat England in an ODI in 1993.

The building of the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium at Mohali in 1993 took cricket away from Sector 16 and even first-class matches were not staged here for ten years before Haryana played the Ranji Trophy Plate semi-final in 2004-05.

As you drive through the area, the stadium is so inconspicuous from the outside that you could easily miss it. The first signs of an international event being held in the area are the numerous policemen milling around.

There are no towering multi-tier concrete stands, and no elaborate pavilion. As you enter, a quaint ground with a ring of low, uncovered stands with plenty of trees surrounding it comes into view. On a clear day you can see the Kasauli hills in the distance. It's not Cape Town and the Table Mountain, but the venue is idyllic compared to some of the other grounds in India.

Over the last two years a lot of work has gone into sprucing the stadium up and the India-Australia ODI on Monday will go a long way in determining the venue's future. A sprinkler system is in place to water the ground, the dressing rooms have been refurbished, a giant screen has been installed and a new media centre, which shows no signs of the minor fire that was reported on Saturday, has been built.

The outfield is in lovely condition with an even covering of grass, the boundaries are on the shorter side, and the pitch is expected to be a batting beauty. It's all set up perfectly for yet another run-fest.

George Binoy is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo