Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pitching for legends

Pitching for legends
Michael Patrao
Flanked by the picturesque Cubbon Park and MG Road, this three-decade-old stadium is situated in the heart of the City.

The M Chinnaswamy Stadium — one of the premier cricket stadiums of India — will witness the clash of titans Australia and India on Saturday.

Flanked by the picturesque Cubbon Park and MG Road, this three-decade-old stadium is situated in the heart of the City. It was formerly known as Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) stadium, but later named after M Chinnaswamy, a legend in cricket administration, who had served the KSCA for four decades and was president of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) from 1977-1980.

Numerous matches
The stadium has witnessed numerous Tests, One-day internationals (ODIs) and other first class matches, besides musical and cultural events. The stadium is the home ground of the Karnataka State cricket team.
The efforts of Sardar Swaran Singh, the defence minister and the patronage of two Karnataka chief ministers S Nijalingappa and Veerendra Patil, enabled the Mysore State Cricket Association (as KSCA was then known), to acquire the land on which Chinnaswamy Stadium was built.

The space
The land measuring 16.5 acres was uneven and had to be levelled. The foundation stone of this stadium was laid in 1969 and the construction work was commenced in April 1970. Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) donated Rs 8 lakh, a big amount in those days. Today for spectators, BEML stand is a vantage position.

The stadium was first used for first-class cricket matches during the 1972-73 season. The inaugural match at the stadium was the Ranji trophy fixture between Hyderabad and Karnataka in December 1972. The South Zone v/s MCC team match was held in January 1973 followed by the Ranji Trophy champions Bombay v/s Rest of India Irani Cup encounter later that year.

It earned Test status during 1974-75 season when the West Indies toured India. The first Test played at this stadium was held from November 22 to 29, 1974. Incidentally, this was the debut Test match for the West Indian batting giants Viv Richards and Gordon Greenidge. The West Indians led by Clive Lloyd defeated MAK Pataudi's Indian team by a convincing 256 runs.

First victory
India registered their first Test win on this ground against the touring English team led by Tony Greig in 1976-77. The first ODI match at this venue was played on September 6, 1982. India defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets in that match.

Floodlights were first installed at this stadium for the 1996 Wills World Cup. The first match under lights was the quarter-final clash between arch rivals India and Pakistan on March 9, 1996 in which India defeated Pakistan by 39 runs in a thrilling encounter.

The stadium also played host to Sunil Gavaskar's swansong innings when India went down to Pakistan in the series decider in 1987.

Getting lucky
The stadium has proved to be a lucky venue for visiting teams with South Africa, Australia and Pakistan winning crucial games. South Africa's historic series win in 2000, Michael Clarke's sensational hundred on debut, Inzamam's century in his 100th Test and Anil Kumble's 400th Test wicket have been some of the highlights.

After the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chose Bangalore as the centre for the National Cricket Academy in 2000, many budding cricketers have passed out of the academy housed on this ground. This stadium also served as venue for the 1996 Miss World pageant.

And today (Saturday), this venue will be the most sought-after for the match between India, buoyant after the Twenty-20 World Cup victory, and Australia, a formidable opponent, is going to get underway in a few hours from now. So cheer on!

He had the distinction of being the only living person in the world to have a cricket stadium named after him, although against his wishes. Mangalam Chinnaswamy was born on March 29, 1898 in Pandavapura of Mandya district. His father Mangalam M Krishna Iyengar, was a headmaster at the Maharaja’s High School in Mysore.

Chinnaswamy graduated in Arts from Mysore University in 1922 followed by a law degree from Madras University.

During his student days he represented Maharaja’s College and Mysore University in cricket and football. He joined the Bangalore bar and practiced as a lawyer, specialising in commercial and company matters from 1925 till his retirement in 1975.
In 1952 he served as the treasurer of Mysore State Cricket Association (MSCA). A year later he became the secretary, a post which he held for a record 25 years from 1953 to 1978. He was the president from 1978 to 1990. He was a treasurer and second official to the Indian tour of Australia in 1967-68 and as the manager when Australia returned the visit two years later. MCC honoured him with a life membership in 1969.

In 1958 Chinnaswamy was elected joint secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. From 1960 to 1965 he was the honourary secretary following which he became vice-president, a position he held for 11 years. Chinnaswamy was the President of Board of Control for Cricket in India from 1977 to 1980. The legendary cricket administrator died after a long illness on November 8, 1991.


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