Venue profile: Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Located in the Indian city of Kolkata, the Eden Gardens is among the most legendary cricket stadiums in the world alongside the likes of Lord’s and the MCG. The historic venue has witnessed several meteoric highs as well as some shambolic lows ever since it was established in the year 1864. The stadium has been named after a park of the same name which is also situated in Kolkata.
The Eden Gardens’ association with international cricket came 70 years post its establishment when England played India in 1934. It was the second Test of a 3-match series and the home team managed to escape with a draw. Since then, this glorious cricket ground has hosted 39 Tests, 29 one-day internationals and 6 T20I matches so far.
There was a time when the Eden Gardens could house a crowd of around 1,00,000 spectators. However, due to the restoration work that was carried out prior to the 2011 ICC World Cup, the capacity of the stadium was reduced to 66,000. Despite this, it is the second largest cricket stadium in the world in terms of seating capacity behind Australia’s MCG.
The two ends which are located north and south of the playing area are known as the High Court End and the Pavillion End respectively. The Cricket Association of Bengal has its head office in the stadium premises and takes care of the ground’s administrative affairs.
Also read: 6 important statistics about Eden Gardens
The Eden Gardens is home to the Bengal domestic cricket team and also the city’s IPL franchise, Kolkata Knight Riders.
Memorable matches played at Eden Gardens
Over the years, the iconic Eden Gardens stadium has played host to a number of international matches across all formats. Here are some of the best ones:
India vs Australia, second Test, Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2001 – This match has been given the status of a classic purely because it witnessed one of the greatest turnarounds in the history of cricket. Following on after having been bowled out for 171 in their first innings while responding to Australia’s 445, India staged an incredible recovery led by VVS Laxman (281) and Rahul Dravid (180) and declared at a mammoth 657 for 7.
The Aussies could have easily batted for a draw, considering that it was the final day of the Test and it was nearly impossible to chase down 384 on a worn-out pitch. However, they decided to have a go at the target and ended up being bowled out for 212 thereby handing the hosts one of their greatest Test victories.
England vs Australia, 1987 World Cup final – The first ever World Cup final played outside England was hosted by this legendary Indian stadium in 1987 and it was perhaps the most competitive one out of all 11 finals that have taken place so far. Having restricted the Australian score to 253 in 50 overs, the English side were cantering away to a win with skipper Mike Gatting and Bill Athey well set.
The turning point in the match, though, came about when a miscued reverse sweep by Gatting went straight to hand. England kept losing wickets and fell agonisingly short of the target by just 7 runs, handing Australia their first World Cup title.
India vs South Africa, first semi-final, 1993 Hero Cup – The Hero Cup which was played in 1993 as part of the Cricket Association of Bengal’s diamond jubilee celebrations was a five-nation tournament featuring India, West Indies, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Zimbabwe. After making it through the round-robin stage, the Indian team faced off with the South Africans in the first semi-final.
While the home team could manage just 195 in their 50 overs, they bowled well and brought the game to a situation where 6 were needed off the last over. In an unexpected move, skipper Mohammad Azharuddin asked Sachin Tendulkar to bowl the last over and it turned out to be a masterstroke as the future legend conceded just 3 runs, winning India the match by 2 runs.
West Indies vs England, 2016 ICC World T20 final – India hosted the sixth edition of the ICC World T20 earlier this year and the historic Eden Gardens was chosen as the venue for the final. Even though the home team was not playing, the Kolkata crowd came in huge numbers to show their support for finalists England and West Indies. The men from the Caribbean did a fine job of keeping the English team down to a total of 155 in their 20 overs.
However, they fell in early trouble while batting and were reduced to 11 for 3 within the first 3 overs. After a brief recovery, the West Indians faltered again and were 107 for 6 but a partnership between Marlon Samuels and Carlos Brathwaite took them to the last over. With 19 required to win off 6 balls, Brathwaite unleashed his big-hitting skills and hit Ben Stokes for 4 consecutive sixes to seal his country’s second World T20 crown.
Famous crowd incidents
Apart from the cricket that has been played on the field, the Eden Gardens stadium is equally renowned for its highly-involved and often raucous crowds. The following are some famous instances from the stadium’s history when the spectators took matters into their own hands.
Riots during the 1967 India-West Indies Test: The crowd that turned up to watch the game was beyond the capacity of the stadium due to duplicate tickets having been sold by some officials. As fans started to spill over to the ground, the police lathi-charged a few of them and a riot broke in the stadium. A day’s play was cancelled due to this but the match resumed a couple of days later and West Indies won by an innings.
1996 World Cup semi-final: With Sachin Tendulkar batting like a dream, India were looking in great shape to chase down the 252-run target set by Sri Lanka but everything started to go south when the master batsman was dismissed. From 98 for 2, the Indian batting collapsed to 120 for 8 leading to violent reactions from the crowd including bottles being thrown and the stand being set on fire. The situation got so bad that no play took place after that and the Sri Lankans were awarded the match.
Sachin’s run-out against Pakistan: A contentious run-out involving the great Indian batsman in the India-Pakistan Test played at the venue in 1999 drew the ire of the Eden crowd and another infamous riot began. The spectators got so aggressive that the police were left with no option and asked them to vacate the stadium. The rest of the match took place with empty stands as the Pakistanis registered an emphatic win.
Indian team booed during an ODI: Sourav Ganguly’s exclusion from the Indian team during Greg Chappell’s reign as Indian coach was something that the fans from Kolkata were particularly very angry about. During an ODI match between India and South Africa in 2005, the crowd made their discontent over Ganguly’s absence completely clear as they booed the Indian team during the match but made it a point to appreciate the efforts of their opponents.