Where history is made
Some of Indian cricket's most remarkable moments are associated with the Chennai stadium
For long, cricket in Chennai has been associated with the spectators who turn out at the Chepauk: they have been regarded as the most knowledgeable cricket fans in the country. An overwhelmed Pakistan even took a lap of honour when the crowd gave them a standing ovation after they won a thriller there in 1999.
Test cricket in Chennai used to coincide with the Pongal (Harvest) festival in January, though that tradition has been done away with in the recent times.
The Indian Cricket Federation staged what is now acknowledged as the first cricket league in India when it conducted a competition for the clubs of Madras in 1932. Club cricket has endured in Chennai since and these days city boasts an enviable club structure, marked by fierce competition and by how rival corporate bodies "support" privately owned clubs.
The MA Chidambaram Stadium, better known as Chepauk Stadium, was established in 1916, and has a capacity of 50,000. The first Test played here was in February 1934, between India and England, and the stadium has also hosted games in the 1987 and 1996 ICC Cricket World Cups. The first-ever Ranji Trophy match was played here, in which AG Ram Singh took 11 wickets on a sticky to bowl Madras to a win over Mysore within a day. India recorded their first Test win here, in 1951-52, when they defeated England by an innings and eight runs; and the second tied Test in cricket's history was also played here, between India and Australia in 1986.
An England-based firm of architects was commissioned by the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association to find a way to increase capacity, provide additional corporate boxes and air-conditioned accommodation, and roof shading in time for the 2011 World Cup. More interestingly, they were also asked to try and let the sea breeze in to get the ground's traditional swing back - all this while adhering to the principles of vaastu, and Indian form of feng shui, in design.
India v Australia, 1987 World Cup
Navjot Singh Sidhu, with 73 on debut built on the start Sunil Gavaskar and Krish Srikkanth had provided, to push India past 200 for 2, chasing 271. It came down to them needing just 15 from the last four overs and finally six from the final over. Maninder Singh managed a couple of twos but then lost his off stump. Some might say it was Kapil Dev's sportsmanship that proved the difference. One of Dean Jones' two sixes had been signalled a four, but between innings Kapil said it was a six and had the scorers change it. India's target was increased by two; they fell short of Australia's target by one run.
India v West Indies, 1994
West Indies were in complete control while Brian Lara and Carl Hooper were adding 112 for the third wicket, but Lara was given out leg-before to Sachin Tendulkar, aiming an extravagant pull at a ball outside off stump, and Jimmy Adams and Hooper followed two runs later. West Indies' 221 didn't prove enough as Mohammad Azharuddin took charge with a fine 81 to push India to a win.
Australia v New Zealand, 1996 World Cup quarter-final
Chris Harris and Lee Germon put on 168 together to push New Zealand to 286, which meant Australia had to make the second-highest score to win a World Cup game at the time. It was also the first game to be played under lights in Chennai. Come the second innings, Mark Waugh hit one of the coolest hundreds in a chase, in just about two-and-a-half hours of nimble-footed driving and flicking, with two big sixes as garnish. Steve Waugh and Stuart Law made light work of the last third and Australia were through in style.
The Tamil Nadu side have won the Ranji Trophy twice, in 1954-55 and 1987-88, and finished as the runners-up eight times. For a team with a rich history and strong club culture, it's a disappointing record. The local IPL franchise, Chennai Super Kings have twice won the tournament and twice been runners-up.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Tips for Travellers
The underrated MRTS overhead trains are extremely useful, especially for getting to the Chepauk stadium. The station is right next to the stadium.