Back home now from the newly rebuild Wankhede Cricket Stadium in South Mumbai on D Road….witnessed some part of the day match between New Zealand and Canada…this is the first match after the Stadium has been rebuild over the last two years…had gone to check out the Stadium and our Seats for the Finals on April 2,2011
Interestingly now I’ve been Live at the Stadium on both the occasions it has been inuagurated…
In 1975,Wankhede Stadium hosted their first ever match……I was there as a 13 year old watching the mighty West Indies take on India in a deciding Test Match for the series….I was in the same Pavilion that I was in today…what a coincidence !….I vividly remember the stands to our left,the West Stands had gone crazy when a Policeman beat up a Spectator who had run on to the field and the crowds got rowdy and violent and began ominous fires in the stand…Play was stopped and crowds had to be pacified…I remember how the West Indian Captain Clive Lloyd scored a magnificient double century and took West Indies to a series victory on the sixth day
Now on March 13,2011 and 36 years later I was there yet again after the stadium has been completely rebuild from scratch…..New Zealand had posted a mammoth 357 in their 50 overs and Canada gave a spirited fightback but fell short and lost this World Cup match
It was a Day match..but I went in after 2 pm…Our Entry was through the Main Gate called the Vinoo Mankad Gate….but the ground level way to the Stadium is quite narrow and barricaded by wooden scaffolding and I fear a stampede like situation on the crowded Final Day when thousands Q up to go into the Stadium
First Look of the Stadium from inside was impressive…three tiers all around…however just two tiers on the East stands and diagonally across in the West Stands with Ventilated grooves in place of a third level to facilitate a strong cross breeze….Many Airconditioned Boxes on either side of the Stadium….three huge screens….two showing the match Live as telecast on TV and one continuously screening Match and Player Statistics….and one huge old fashioned and traditional Black Scoreboard
We had tickets for Level 1 and 3 of the Garware Pavilion on the South side,besides the Commentators Box,and VIP Stands…We checked out Level 1 first…. too low and not too good a ground level view …..Level 2 is the best view…..but we had Level 3 tickets……Superb Aerial and Angular View of the whole ground…but a bit too high up….. there are bucket seats…but terribly dusty and dirty….the finishing of the flooring and the steps is poor and they remain rough and have not been levelled well…I found the steps a bit scary…too small and you ascend them you nearly hit your head on the bars handles that are at the beginning of each row….and when you descend be warned !….one trip or tumble and you will fall dangerously down….thankfully there is a Schindler Lift that you can take up to Level 3…it accomodates 10 people or 800 kgs…but there may be a Q on crowded days…..you need to go down a level to get some Drinks..only Pepsi… or Wafers…only Lays or Kurkure….Rs 25 and Rs 15 each respectively…Bottled Water too is available……you need to go even further down for some more variety of food…the bathrooms are clean and look decent because they’re new…hope they are maintained….picked up a World Cup Cotton Black T Shirt for Rs 500 and a Back pack for Rs 200 at the Souveniers Stall on the way out…..Caps cost Rs 400 and a Hat costs Rs 600..Polyester T Shirts cost Rs 900….World Cup T Shirts are in two colours White and Black…India T Shirt is in Blue….Took a Cab as No parking is allowed within a km either side of the Stadium…today was not crowded…mobiles were being allowed…took a few mobile snaps..posted them above
Though the crowds today were probably below 15000 in the stadium of capacity of 33000 the atmosphere was fun….Between Overs the superb Sound System with speakers all over the Stadium belted out hot Bollywood Hits plus the World Cup Song….there were two different professional Dholak Groups or ‘tashas’…one in the East Stand and the other in the West Stand…whipping up some frenzy in the spectators at every four or six or when a wicket fell….a live host acted as a cricket commentator of sorts and announced on the spot competitions and made some fun announcements…though India was not even playing chants of “Sachin! Sachin !” rent the air…..the North Stands and East Stands and a good part of even the South East Stands seating ICC and other VIP Guests or Invitees bore the Sun rays for a few hours…In Level 3 in the Garware Pavilion the Sun’s rays hit us only a brief few minutes around 4.45 pm from behind as it set
You cannot live a ‘Live at the Stadium’ Experience in your Living Room or even the nearest Pub or Bar watching it on TV…..you simply cannot feel the ‘vibe’….so if you do get a chance to experience a Big Match at a Cricket Stadium,just don’t think twice about it !…Just Go !…and it does not get any bigger than a World Cup Final…hoping with India in it !
Cheers !…awaiting now the New Zealand v/s Sri Lanka tie now at Wankhede Stadium on Friday, March 18,2011…It’s a day & night match and I expect a near full or full capacity ….and then the Finals on April 2,2011…Hope It’s India in it and wins it !