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New-age ground, big ambitions

Devashish Fuloria
Pune hasn't hosted a lot of international cricket, but has finally entered Test cricket's map

The MCA Stadium in Pune is far from the city but that hasn't deterred spectators from trooping in © Hindustan Times

One of the cities swept up in India's original information-technology boom, Pune was known for its cantonments, factories surrounding it, and its educational institutions till about 20 years ago. But then the sudden expansion of the IT industry in the 1990s attracted techies from all over India, and the once-sleepy town transformed into a major metropolis.

The venue
Cricket-wise, Pune has always played second fiddle to Mumbai. The city is home to the Maharashtra Ranji team, which is the third team from the state - Mumbai and Vidarbha being the other two. The main ground in the city today is the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium, which hosted its first match during the 2012 IPL. It hosted its first international match, a T20I between India and England, later that year, and its first ODI the following year. In 2015, the ground got Test status, with its inaugural Test to be a much-anticipated India-Australia encounter. The 55,000-capacity ground tends to draw big crowds, despite being a fair distance from the city centre.

Before the MCA stadium took over the mantle, Nehru Stadium was Pune's primary venue. The stadium started hosting international matches in 1984 and witnessed an upset during the 1996 World Cup when Kenya surprised West Indies in a low scorer. The ground, though, remained a B centre and hosted only 11 ODIs - the last in 2005.

Notable matches
India v England, first T20I, December 20, 2012
The MCA Stadium's first international match was a victorious one for the home team. India gunned down a target of 158 with five wickets in hand and 13 balls to spare, registering a comfortable win over England in the first T20I. Yuvraj Singh's all-round effort earned him the Man-of-the-Match award and a sizeable crowd got their money's worth.

India v England, first ODI, January 15, 2017
The same two teams played out a classic ODI at the venue just over four years later, with India coming up trumps again. Chasing 351, India had slipped to 63 for 4, before Virat Kohli and Kedar Jadhav hit brilliant centuries to bring their team roaring back. Jadhav scored 120 off just 76, but it was Hardik Pandya and R Ashwin who got the home side across the line in a nail-biter.

Kenya v West Indies, World Cup, February 1996
Playing their first World Cup, Kenya pulled off one of the greatest upsets of them all when they bowled West Indies out for 93 to fashion a 73-run win in Pune. After recovering from 81 for 6 to post 166, Kenya sliced through a batting order that included Brian Lara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Richie Richardson and Jimmy Adams. It was West Indies' second-lowest total at the time, and Kenya's most famous win by a distance.

Major players
Chandu Borde | Hemant Kanitkar | Hrishikesh Kanitkar

Home team
Maharashtra won two consecutive Ranji titles in 1940 and 1941, and they made it to three more finals - the last of which was in 2013-14. In the 2016-17 season, they had a mid-table finish in Group B.