Playing in India is an experience that most cricketers from other corners of the world look forward to having at least once during their respective careers. While this has got to do with the challenging set of playing conditions that they encounter, it is also about the opportunity to soak in the surreal atmosphere which comes with facing Team India in front of a raucous, cricket-crazy home crowd.
What also gladdens foreign cricketers about Indian spectators is their knowledge of the game and how easily they identify players from other countries, too. Despite the fact that they are used to this adulation, even the home team has always been in awe of the kind of support they get from the crowd and always put their best efforts to keep the fans happy.
Although a buzzing cricket crowd can be found almost anywhere in the country, there are some Indian stadiums which have established their own legacy in terms of the crowd atmosphere that they tend to offer. Here are the 5 best cricket grounds in this regard:
#5 Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, Delhi
Ever since it hosted its very first Test match back in the year 1948, the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi has been part of India’s rich cricketing history. From Sachin Tendulkar’s record-breaking 35th Test century to Anil Kumble’s iconic 10-wicket innings haul, the Kotla has seen it all.
Team India has not lost a single Test at this historic venue in 28 years and this streak is most likely to get stretched in the future. The Kotla crowd has had a major role to play in their hugely successful run as they have backed the home side even when the chips are down.
In the IPL, too, the fans have always turned up in huge numbers to show their support for the Delhi Daredevils, irrespective of their inconsistent run over the years. The most notable stadium in India’s capital city is certainly among the best in terms of crowd atmosphere.
#4 Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
Although the Wankhede Stadium has always been among the top stadiums in India, its prominence has definitely gone up a few more notches since the home team lifted their 2nd World Cup title here in 2011. There are many other great moments that the crowd at Mumbai’s iconic ground has witnessed over the years.
The cries of “Sachin, Sachin” from the crowd in the Wankhede during Tendulkar’s last Test match for India is the perfect soundtrack to Sachin’s career.
Whenever the Indian team plays at Wankhede in any format, one can always expect a full house of spectators to spur them on. During the 2011 World Cup final, the crowd showed their appreciation for every fielding effort, every wicket taken, and every run scored by the home side, while also applauding special moments for the Sri Lankan team.
The atmosphere at the stadium is absolutely electric in the IPL, too, especially when the Mumbai Indians have the edge over the opposition. The Wankhede Stadium is certainly a venue that one should visit in order to get the true feel of an Indian crowd.
#3 M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
The M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, also known as the Chepauk Stadium, is officially the oldest international cricket venue in India having hosted its first Test in the year 1934. It is also among the most iconic grounds in the history of the sport in the country with many great matches in its kitty.
The stadium is famous for its highly intelligent crowd which knows how to appreciate the efforts of opposition teams, too, even while screaming their lungs out in support of the home side. A great proof of this trait was seen during the classic Test match between India and Pakistan in 1999 when the latter received a rousing applause from the spectators after winning a close encounter.
In terms of supporting the home team, there are very few grounds in the world which can match the Chepauk crowd. Be it the series-decider of the 2001 India-Australia series or the great 387-run chase against England in 2008, the crowd has been right behind the home side.
The amazing crowd atmosphere of the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium has also been seen during the IPL as well with fans coming in large numbers to support the two-time champions, Chennai Super Kings.
#2 M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
When talking about the best cricket grounds in India, the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru is one of the first few names that comes to mind. Although it may be not as old as some of the other great venues in the country, it already has established a legacy which is here to stay.
Not only have there been a number of classic matches played at the stadium, it is also home to a fantastic crowd which has provided great support to the Indian team. The India-Pakistan encounter in the 1996 World Cup is a fine example to depict exactly how supportive the Bangalore fans can be.
The crowd at the Chinnaswamy Stadium is also completely bent in favour of the city’s IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore. The most heartening fact is that they cheer for an AB de Villiers or a Chris Gayle as much as they do for the Indian cricketers.
For those who want to enjoy watching a cricket match at a stadium in India, the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium is one of the best places to go.
#1 Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Perhaps one of the greatest cricket stadiums in the world, the Eden Gardens in Kolkata has witnessed some of the most dramatic moments in India’s cricketing history. The legendary venue has such a charm to it that cricketers from all over the world dream of playing here.
Most of the credit for the ground’s iconic status, though, must be given to the incredible and often boisterous crowd that comes to enjoy the cricket here. The spectators at the Eden Gardens have had almost everything to offer over the years – from wild celebrations to violent protests, from booing the home team to coming in huge numbers to see two foreign teams in action.
The 1993 Hero Cup and the epic 2001 Test against Australia are two of the finest examples of the Eden crowd at its best. Talking about their ugly side, one is reminded of incidents like the 1996 World Cup semi-final and the Asian Test Championship match against Pakistan in 1999.
Apart from international cricket, the crowd atmosphere at the Eden Gardens during the IPL has also been nothing short of spectacular. In fact, the Kolkata Knight Riders are known to have the greatest amount of fan support during home matches compared to other franchises.