January 29, 2017 2:42:05 am
Pune is all set for its tryst with the cricketing history, ahead of the first-ever Test match at MCA Stadium, Gahunje, between 23 and 27 February. This historic moment for the city’s cricket fans comes 82 years after the MCA was established in 1934. What makes the moment even bigger is the fact that the Test happens to be a contest between the World’s No. 1 Test side — India — and the number two Test team — Australia. As a launchpad for the much-vaunted Border-Gavaskar Trophy (title for contests between India vs Australia), the match provides Pune a perfect opportunity to climb on to the world cricket map. A strong contingent of Australian supporters is also expected to turn up for the Test.
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MCA President Abhay Apte said, “The MCA stadium is now one of the best boutique sporting grounds in India and we believe that it is at the right stage and the right position to host the first Test match. Playing host to this historic event will also add credentials to our state. We thank the BCCI for their ongoing support in promoting our strong case.”
For MCA, the Test is an excellent follow-up to the sellout ODI, staged against England on January 15. A full-capacity crowd of 37,500 turned up to cheer local hero Kedar Jadhav as he played a part in India’s win. Kedar, in fact, went on to be adjudged the Man-Of-The-Series. So, just to honour Jadhav, as Maharashtra’s representative for India, the MCA will hand the first ticket of the Test to him.
The state-of-the-art MCA Stadium has staged a total of 29 high-profile short-format matches, including two ODIs, two T20s and 25 IPL matches. To make the match more commemorative, a special invitation is also being rolled out to all the first-class cricketers who have represented Maharashtra.
Maharashtra’s rich tradition of cricket can be traced back to the highest first-class score of 443 not out by an Indian, Bhausaheb Babasaheb Nimbalkar, in 1948-49 against Kathiawar. In the ongoing 2016-17 season, Swapnil Gugale (351 not out) gained national attention with his unbeaten 594-run stand with Ankit Bawne. This is a record for the third wicket in Ranji Trophy history.
“But the overall objective of the MCA is also to make it a fan-friendly event,” said officials. The MCA is also planning to invite city schools to watch the match. It will also offer free seats to the differently-abled.
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