World XI vs Asia XI on cards as world’s largest stadium opens in Ahmedabad in March

World XI vs Asia XI on cards as world’s largest stadium opens in Ahmedabad in March

The world’s largest cricket stadium at Ahmedabad with a capacity to host 1.10 lakh fans is likely to be ready to host its first match next March — an exhibition game between Asia XI and World XI could be the inaugural game if the International Cricket Council (ICC) agrees to Indian cricket board’s request. The new Sardar Patel stadium, built at cost of Rs 700 crores after razing down the old structure at Motera, can seat more fans than Australia’s Melbourne Cricket Ground, which has capacity of just over a lakh.

Jay Shah, the son of union home minister Amit Shah, and the current secretary of the BCCI has been talking up the stadium as the brainchild of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the PM is expected to be at the inauguration of the new stadium.

Since he has now received confirmation from the Gujarat Cricket Association of the stadium’s readiness, Sourav Ganguly, BCCI’s president, said he will seek ICC’s approval for the opening game in March.

‘There will be Asia XI vs World XI game but it will be subject to ICC’s approval,’ Ganguly confirmed to The Indian Express after BCCI’s annual general body meeting held in Mumbai on Sunday. It is learnt in order to make it grand, the board and GCA wants the world’s top stars to come under one roof. The stadium at Motera will more than double the capacity of the old structure that hosted 54,000 spectators. It will be spread over 63 acres, with a clubhouse that will feature at least 50 rooms and an Olympic-size swimming pool and 73 corporate boxes.

It will also have an indoor cricket academy and three practice grounds for the players. The stadium’s construction began in January 2017.

The venue is close to the metro station, a distance of just 300 metres. The structure is also reputed be earthquake-proof and will have LED lights instead of normal floodlights as seen in other stadiums. The Sardar Patel Stadium has been the venue of much-cherished Indian records — it was here that Sunil Gavaskar became the first batsman in history to go past 10,000 Test runs and it’s also the venue where Kapil Dev overtook Richard Hadlee’s wicket tally with his 432nd Test wicket. Modi has been the former president of GCA while Amit Shah was their outgoing president. The high-profile association recently got its biggest representation in the BCCI when Jay was elected as the secretary last month. A former GCA joint-secretary Jay will now be present at the ICC’s Chief Executive Committee (CEC) meet. However, it is still not clear, who will be BCCI’s nominee to the ICC.

‘For CEC, the rule is that the secretary (Jay) will attend. As for ICC representative we will decide in a couple of days,’ Ganguly stated.

The Sardar Patel stadium has come a long way since 1983 when it hosted its first Test against West Indies. In 1992 when former deputy chief minister of Gujarat Narhari Amin took over as GCA president, the bank balance was only 356 rupees, according to Amin. A few years later to raise funds, the association showed the movie Sarfarosh at a local drive-in theatre, Amin had told the magazine The Week. These days, there is no financial crunch at the association with a modern stadium set to be inaugurated in a few months.

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