The Barabati Stadium at Cuttack is perhaps the only stadium where international cricket is played in Odisha. The first test at this ground was played between India and Sri Lanka during January 4-7, 1987 and its last test match came in 1995 when India faced New Zealand during November 8-12. Its first one day international was a match between India and England on January 27, 1982, which is also the third one-dayer to have been played in the country. The first one day match was a memorable encounter as it saw India defeating England by 5 wickets to win the decider and, thus, the series by 2-1. The last one day match at this ground came on November 29, 2011 with a match featuring India and the West Indies.
The first test match at this ground is remembered mostly for an underprepared wicket that provided a level of bounce that was not easy to predict. In that match Dilip Vengsarkar, who was then at the peak of his career, hammered a magnificent 166, which remains his best effort in tests. It was also his 4th century in double the number of tests. It also needs to be remembered in this context that in the same match no other batter got in excess of 60, which shows how tough it was to bat on that pitch.
India was able to gain an innings and a 67-run victory by bundling out their southern neighbors twice. It was also the match where legendary Indian all-rounder Kapil Dev got his 300th test wicket by claiming Rumesh Ratnayeke with a ball that did not sit up at all. Barabati hosted another test match in the 1995-96 season, which was also its last one. In that match rain made sure that no more than a total of 3 hours was possible. This match also saw the leggie, Narendra Hirwani, getting 6 for 59 in the only innings that New Zealand played. Incidentally this match was a sort of comeback for Hirwani and the figures happen to be the best that have been taken on this ground in a test match.
Till date, India has played 7 one day internationals at this ground and managed to win 5 out of them. Barabati has also hosted two other games that have not involved India. The sad thing about this ground is that it is not really preferred by the visiting teams. They have, in the past, stated that they are not comfortable playing on this ground since they have to travel to this stadium from Bhubaneshwar, which is an hour by road. The main reason behind this predicament is the lack of good accommodation in the city as well as an airport, which forces the teams to get to and back from Bhubaneshwar on a daily basis during the match days and the days in the lead up to the game.
However, Barabati boasts of decent facilities like floodlights and a good and lush outfield that allows exciting cricket. Its two ends are named Pavilion End and Mahal River End. It may not still be an integral part of the cricketing folklore of India, but it is one ground where India enjoys a success rate of higher than 70 per cent! With the BCCI looking to take the game to the smaller centers, especially in the shorter formats, this venue could well assume greater proportions in terms of significance in the near future.
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