Sunday, Nov 16, 2003
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By Abhijit Sen Gupta
In all probablity this would be the last international match to be played at the Lal Bahadur Stadium which has been the epicentre of Hyderabad cricket for decades. The scene of action will henceforth shift to the HCA's own stadium which is now coming up at Uppal.
Originally known as Fateh Maidan, the ground was re-christened Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium after the former Prime Minister of India in the sixties. Over the years, many a memorable cricketing feat has been witnessed on this ground and some of the best known names in international cricket have displayed their skills on the lush green turf of the Lal Bahadur Stadium.
The multi-purpose ground was associated with many sports but cricket always played a pivotal role. There was an air of excitement around the area and often the denizens of Hyderabad were attracted to this ground as if by instinct when a match was in progress. Located in the heart of Hyderabad city, it was easily accessible to most sports lovers. When a match was on at the Lal Bahadur Stadium and a wicket fell or a boundary was hit, the cheers of the 30,000 strong crowd could easily be heard in the Nizam College which is located just across the road. To what extent this distracted the academic inclinations of the students of this famous educational institute is debatable. But it is a well-known fact that the college has produced the majority of Hyderabad's international cricketers. Perhaps it was a result of the inspiration they received from the proximity of the Lal Bahadur Stadium.
Some of the famous cricketers who have played on this ground include Clive Lloyd, Lance Gibbs, Vivian Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Andy Roberts, Alvin Kallicharan, Allan Border, Zaheer Abbas, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Martin Crowe, Arjuna Ranatunga, Kapil Dev and almost all the top Indian players from the bygone days to the present.
Many extraordinary feats were accomplished on this ground. Who can forget Allan Border's blazing 84 not out off only 44 deliveries against England in the MRF Cup in 1989. Border slammed thirteen 4s and six 6s (including one over the point boundary off the bowling of Gladstone Small) during that knock which will not be easily forgotten by those who witnessed it.
Another feat which comes readily to mind is Zimbabwean David Houghton's 142 off 137 balls against New Zealand during the Reliance Cup in 1987. Houghton was eventually out to a remarkable catch by Martin Crowe who ran nearly 40 yards at long-on to hold a skier after a visibly tired Houghton tried to hit a delivery from Martin Snedden over the ropes.
Another remarkable feat seen here was the record second-wicket partnership of 331 between Sachin Tendulkar (186) and Rahul Dravid (153) against New Zealand in 1999.
The focus will soon shift to the new stadium. But all those who have watched international cricket here, and probably even those who have played here, will have fond memories of this venue. Despite criticism of this stadium for lack of adequate players' facilities, this venue nevertheless had a charm of its own. It was associated with the grace and elegance of cricket of a bygone era and will remain in the hearts of Hyderabad cricket lovers for a long time.
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