Floodlights: Six towers, completed April 7, 2008
End names: Pavilion End, North End
Home team: Hyderabad (India)
Test History: 4 (3 home wins 1 draw)
Last 4 Tests: 2 home wins, 1 draw
Last 4 tosses: 3 batted first (1 win, 1 draw, 1 loss)
The Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium is the principal cricket stadium in Hyderabad, Telangana, India and is the home ground of the Hyderabad Cricket Association.
It is located in Uppal, an eastern suburb of the city. It has a capacity of 55,000 spectators presently and extends across 16 acres (65,000 m2) of land. The ends are named Pavilion End and North End. On the retirement of VVS Laxman, the HCA decided to honour the state hero by naming the North End after him.
HCA’s previous home ground was the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium in the Fateh Maidan sports complex at Basheerbagh in central Hyderabad. The ground belonged to the Sports Authority of Telangana State and HCA had limited operating autonomy over this ground.
Moreover, due to its smaller size, it soon came to be known as a high-scoring ground and so Hyderabad was not considered for many high-profile cricket matches in India.
In 2003, the proposal for a new stadium was submitted by HCA to the government of erstwhile
Andhra Pradesh, then headed by N. Chandrababu Naidu. The proposal was quickly cleared and HCA was allocated a budget for the same. The government also identified a large piece of land suitable for the project at Uppal.
Most of the funding for the project came after an open auction of the stadium’s title was held. Visaka Industries Limited won the auction with a bid price of Rs. 65,00,00,000. A sum of Rs. 43,00,00,000 was paid in advance and the stadium was named as Visakha International Cricket Stadium in 2004.
By 2005 when most of the stadium was built, it was ready to host its first ODI Match between India and South Africa. However, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy the former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh decided to change the name of the stadium to Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in memory of the former Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi.
Following this decision, HCA was required to pay Visakha Industries six times the contract price in accordance with the contract clauses governing any subsequent renaming of the stadium or the Visakha name not remaining attached to the stadium. HCA however, following some negotiations by Government, got away by paying an amount of Rs. 43,00,00,000, i.e. the contract price only.
The ground has hosted four Tests to date resulting in three India victories and one draw.
India crushed Bangladesh on the back of a Virat Kohli double ton when they met in February 2019 in Hyderabad.
In the build up to that Test Bangladesh opposing skipper Mushfiqur Rahim said: “Shakib will be handy in these conditions and we also have Taijul Islam and Mehedi Hasan. They have to be at their best because we are playing against the No. 1 team in the world.”
India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin told BCCI.TV ahead of that match: “This is a big ground for a spinner, you can toss up a bit more even in shorter version of the game. There is a little more hold on the wicket, the bounce gives you allowance to be imaginative. I enjoy bowling here.”
Cheteshwar Pujara has scored two hundreds at the venue in two Tests including a double hundred and he leads the all-time leading Test scorers at the ground with a total of 500.
Ashwin has taken 24 wickets at this ground in just two Test matches and has bagged three five-fors here.
No rain expected for the first four days but there is a high probability of showers on the fifth day, if the match makes it that far.
Should be a typical Indian wicket, dry and breaking up from the third day, the team that wins the toss will no doubt bat first and look to get their spinners in business later in the game.
The West Indies will need to improve defensively to match the batting power of India on what should be a true but slightly slow track.
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