The Wankhede Stadium, the premier cricket ground in India’s commercial and cricketing capital, has yielded sixty-seven of the country’s 265 Test cricketers. The venue has staged 21 Tests and 15 ODIs since its debut as an international venue in 1974-75. Among the significant Tests it has hosted, the Jubilee Test against England in 1979-80, which was organised to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the BCCI, stands tall. Ian Botham made it a game to remember by becoming the first cricketer to score a hundred and take ten wickets in the same Test. Sunil Gavaskar, Test cricket’s first ‘five-figure’ man, scored five of his thirty-four Test hundreds at this venue.
It was here that the Little Master bid adieu to international cricket after India lost the semi-final of the 1987 World Cup to eventual runners-up England. (India were bowled out for 219 in response to England’s 254-6). The game featured a brilliant 115 by Graham Gooch. The first World Cup game to be played at the venue was a league encounter between India and Zimbabwe earlier in the tournament which the co-hosts won by eight wickets.
The venue’s third World Cup encounter, nine years later, was made memorable by a batsman who had been a ball-boy during the matches played here in 1987. Sachin Tendulkar’s audacious 90 in a losing cause against Australia, in what also was the venue’s first day-night encounter, was the knock that was believed to have reminded Sir Don Bradman of himself. India fell short of Australia’s 258 by a mere 16 runs, Tendulkar’s pyrotechnics notwithstanding.
On 2 April 2011, the venue will become the seventh arena to host a World Cup final, after Lord’s (London, England), Eden Gardens (Kolkata), Melbourne (Australia), Lahore (Pakistan), Wanderers (Johannesburg, South Africa) and Bridgetown (West Indies). The ground is presently undergoing extensive renovation. The new arena will be a state-of-the-art-facility that will accommodate 33, 442 spectators and will be equipped with amenities that will enhance the playing, viewing and reporting experience for the cricketers, spectators and media respectively.