The M.A. Chidambaram Stadium holds a special place in Indian and world cricket history. It was here that India opened its account in Test cricket with a victory by an innings and eight runs over England in 1951-52. Thirty-four years later, the arena staged only the second tied Test in the history of Test cricket. India, chasing 348 on the last day, were all out for 347. The arena witnessed Narendra Hirwani’s haul of 16-137 on his Test debut, against West Indies in 1987-88. In recent times, Virender Sehwag scored 319 against South Africa at the venue.
It was here that India played Australia on 9 October 1987, in what was the first World Cup game on Indian soil, and one of the greatest ODIs ever played. The Australians scored 270-6, with opener Geoffrey Marsh scoring a hundred. The Indians started well, but kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Craig McDermott scalped five batsmen and Steve Waugh handled the pressure of bowling the final over brilliantly. With India needing six to win, Waugh conceded two twos to India’s last man Maninder Singh, but retained his focus and reaped the rewards for doing so off the penultimate ball. The Australians carried the confidence gained from that one-run win into the final. They beat Zimbabwe by ninety-six runs at the venue later in the tournament.
Coincidentally, the third and last World Cup game to be played here also featured Australia. Their supporters were a little jittery when New Zealand batted first in the quarter-final of the 1996 edition and scored 286-9. However, Mark Waugh batted beautifully to score a hundred and set up a six-wicket win. That game was also the venue’s first day-night encounter.
The venue is the home ground of the Chennai Super Kings, the winners of the 2010 editions of the IPL and CLT20. It is presently being upgraded for the 2011 World Cup. Work was completed on three new stands in a record time of 110 days. The days to come will see the completion of additional corporate boxes, among other embellishments. Gaps are being created between the stands to get the air to flow into the ground in an effort to return to the days when the venue was conducive to swing bowling. The principles of Vaastu, an Indian form of Feng Shui, have been considered in the new design scheme.