Mumbai: After being
acknowledged as the country's commercial capital and entertainment
hub, Mumbai has at last found international recognition as the
nation's cricket capital by getting to host Saturday's World Cup
final which is being played in India for the second time.
For long a dominant force in domestic tournaments, Mumbai has the
most successful record in the prestigious Ranji trophy, winning it
Mumbai has made it to the Ranji final on 43 occasions, finishing
runners-up four times. For decades, it has been the main supply line
for cricketers in the Indian team since the nation played its first
Test match way back in 1932.
From Vijay Merchant, Vijay Hazare through Vinoo Mankad, to Sunil
Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar, Mumbai has year after year produced
international cricketing greats who have not only kept the country's
flag flying but also provided unmitigated joy to the connoisseurs of
the game across the globe.
However, Mumbai missed out on the final of the 1987 World Cup to the
historic Eden Gardens of Kolkata, mainly on account of Eden's higher
Eden then had a capacity of around 90,000, which has now come down
to around 59,000 after the recent renovation.
In 1996, when the World Cup was organised in the subcontinent for
the second time, Mumbai was again not in the reckoning for the
final, which was staged at Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium.
But April 2, 2011, was finally the big day for Mumbai with the
India-Sri Lanka clash for the 2011 World Cup title at the Wankhede
However, Wankhede can seat a maximum 33,000, almost half of Eden,
and the answer perhaps lies in the change in the power equation in
the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
From the mid-1990s to 2005, the board's politics was controlled by
Jagmohan Dalmiya, the first Indian to head the International Cricket
Council. He even once shifted the headquarters of the BCCI to
Kolkata after the Shiv Sena threatened to spoil an India-Pakistan
showdown in 1999. However, things changed once Sharad Pawar took
over the reins of the BCCI.
And Saturday was another example of the power shift in the nation's
There are critics who question Wankhede's choice as a venue for the
World Cup final. They point out that only 4,000 tickets could be
sold to the public because of the low capacity.
But Pawar Friday dismissed such criticism, saying Lord's, which
staged four World Cup finals, has an even lower capacity.
"If you look at Lord's in England, it has a capacity of only 18,000.
Here we have a sitting capacity of 32,000-33,000," Pawar told
"It is easy to say why we don't have a bigger capacity, but it is
not easy to get a piece of land for such a big stadium in a city
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