‘Battles’ Of Barabati: A Favoured Fortress For Men In Blue
Cuttack: All roads lead to Barabati Stadium here as the Men in Blue as they take on West Indies in the series-decider on Sunday.
And the excitement is palpable among cricket lovers in Odisha with Barabati Stadium hosting a one-day international (ODI) match after a gap of almost three years.
A total of 18 ODIs have been played at this 61-year-old venue. India has featured in 17 ODIs and lost just five games with one against Australia being abandoned in 1996. Barabati has symbolically and literally become a favourite fortress for the Men in Blue as India has not lost a single match here in the last 16 years. The highest team score of 400 runs was also achieved here by India against Sri Lanka.
The stadium hosted its first ODI and only the third in the country in January 1982 when India trounced England by five wickets to lift the series 2-1. It was England again that the India last played here in 2017. The month was January and India won the match by 15 runs after putting up a score of 381/6 with 256-run partnership between Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh.
The other recent matches played at the stadium include India vs Sri Lanka (November 2, 2014), India vs Australia (October 26, 2013), India vs West Indies (November 29, 2011) and India vs Sri Lanka (December 21, 2009).
The match in 2013 was abandoned without a ball being bowled, due to incessant rain.
The stadium also hosted matches in two World Cups played in the subcontinent – 1987 Cricket World Cup (Australia beat Zimbabwe by 70 runs) and 1996 Cricket World Cup (India beat Kenya by 7 Wickets).
The stadium hosted the first Test match from January 4-7, 1987 between India and Sri Lanka. The teams were greeted with an under prepared wicket that gave way to unpredictable bounce. Dilip Vengsarkar’s 166 and Kapil Dev’s 300 Test wickets were the only highlight of that match.
The venue played host to the only other Test match during New Zealand’s India tour in the 1995-96 series. However, the match was cancelled due to rain as only 180 overs could be bowled. Narendra Hirwani, on a comeback trail, took 6 for 59 in New Zealand’s only innings; the best bowling figures achieved by an Indian here.
Though the venue was to host its first T20I match between India and West Indies in 2014, it was abandoned after Odisha was hit by a cyclonic storm. Not a single ball could be bowled due to poor ground conditions.
The stadium finally created history by hosting all three versions of international cricket with the T20I between India and South Africa in October 2015. But crowd trouble marred this match as angry spectators hurled missiles, mainly water bottles, into the ground. Their cause of ire: India were bundled in just 17.2 overs, to record their second-lowest total in T20. The crowd halted play twice in the match. Former Indian cricketer Sunil Gavaskar even called for an action against the stadium by banning it as an international venue.
The last T20I was played here in December 2017 when the host country clashed with Sri Lanka.
Barbati Stadium also was an alternate home venue for the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2014 and was an adopted venue by former IPL team Deccan Chargers.