The venue made its Test debut against the West Indies in 1948-49 in what was the first series to be played in India after independence. It was here, in 1983-84, that Sunil Gavaskar equalled Sir Don Bradman’s tally of 29 Test hundreds and Anil Kumble became only the second bowler in Test history to take all ten wickets in an innings (1998-99).
Coincidentally, India played the eventual champions in the two World Cup games to be played at this venue. Australia, the winners of the 1987 edition, suffered their only defeat of the tournament, by 56 runs. India scored 289-6, with Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar and Mohammed Azharuddin scoring fifties, and restricted Australia to 233. Nine years later, India batted first against Sri Lanka and an innings of 137 by Sachin Tendulkar helped them reach 271-3. The delight of the spectators turned to despair within fifteen minutes of the start of Sri Lanka’s reply. Openers Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana went for broke and the scoreboard at the end of the third over read 42-0. The slaughter at the start gave the middle order the room and the overs to stroll in the middle overs. Sri Lanka completed a comfortable six-wicket win in the penultimate over. The triumph underscored the technical and tactical proficiency of the cricketers from the Emerald Isle. They had blended their inherent belligerence with an unconventional strategy that turned one of one-day cricket’s set-in-stone rules – one opener to attack, his partner to hold one end up, and the hundred to be brought up by the 25th over – on its head. Their aim was to attack from both ends and aim for 100 by the 15th over itself. If anything went wrong, they had batsmen right down to No. 7 to stabilise the innings.
The arena underwent extensive renovation in the mid-2000s. It made its day-night debut in the 2009-10 when India played Australia in the third game of a seven-match series. The Kotla is the home ground of the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL.