Usually, a cricket ground (also called a cricket field) is a large, circular or oval-shaped grassy ground on which the game is played, although the principal action is centred on a 22-yard strip of brown land – mostly interspersed with bits of grass – which is right in the middle of the ground.
Similar to baseball, cricket is another major sport where the dimensions of the ground are not fixed, but the diameter usually varies from 450-500 feet. On most grounds, a rope (also called the boundary or fence) demarcates the perimeter of the field, keeping the spectators away from the playing area. In modern times, the boundary is reinforced by advertising hoardings placed horizontally along the entire ground a few feet from the ropes.
Other features of a cricket ground include the now-famous thirty yard circle, which divides the playing field into two parts – an in-field and an outfield. These are typically used to enforce fielding restrictions, and are more prominently displayed during limited-overs cricket.
India has a plethora of cricket grounds in place, most of which have seen international action as well as the flashier Indian Premier League games. Here is a list of the top five grounds that have witnessed great deeds in the sport over the years:
5. Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium, Jamtha, Nagpur
At Number 5 in this list of Top cricket grounds in India it VCA (Vidharba Cricket Association) stadium. Built in the Jamtha area of the city of Nagpur in Maharashtra in 2008, the VCA Stadium replaced the old VCA cricket ground as the main stadium in the city. It has a capacity of 45,000 and has played host to both Test and ODI matches.
In terms of facilities, it is India’s best stadium – complete with world-class amenities for practice and training.
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni holds the record for the highest individual ODI score on this ground when he made 124 against Australia in the 2009-10 season. South Africa’s Hashim Amla holds the same position in Tests – he made an unbeaten 253 against India in 2010-11.
The stadium also featured four matches of the 2011 World Cup – with the game between England and the Netherlands proving to be a humdinger thanks to a magnificent century from Dutch all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate.
4. Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad
At Number 4 in this list of Top cricket grounds in India is Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium. Formerly known as the Visaka International Cricket Stadium, it is the principal stadium in the city of Hyderabad, and the home of the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA). It extends across 16 acres and is located in Uppal, an eastern suburb of the city.
The two ends of the stadium are the Pavilion End and the North End – the latter was renamed the VVS Laxman End after the Indian middle-order batsman retired from international cricket. The ground is also home to the Sunrisers Hyderabad, an IPL franchise formerly known as the Deccan Chargers.
With a capacity of 55,000, the stadium hosted its first international fixture in the form of an ODI between India and South Africa in November 2005. It also saw the maestro Sachin Tendulkar play a gallant innings of 175 in a 3-run defeat to the visiting Australians. He also completed his 45th ODI hundred with that knock, received his 60th ODI Man of the Match award and crossed the 17,000 run mark in ODIs in the same game.
The ground has favoured both spin and pace, and India has recorded two innings defeats of Australia at the venue. Rookie batsman Cheteshwar Pujara scored his maiden Test hundred here, and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin grabbed 12 wickets in the same match. Truly a remarkable stadium!
3. Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur
Known informally as the SMS stadium, this cricketing venue was built during the reign of Sawai Raja Man Singh II. It seats 30,000 people and is located at one corner of the Rambagh Circle in Jaipur.
The stadium has hosted one Test match between India and Pakistan in 1987, witnessed by then-Pakistan President General Zia-ul-Haq as part of his Cricket for Peace initiative. The two subcontinent rivals also played the first ODI at this stadium in 1983, with India emerging the victor.
The ground has also witnessed Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s blitzkrieg innings of 183 not out against the Sri Lankans in 2005-06. In the same season, a world-class cricket academy was built at a cost of INR 7 crore.