Mumbai is regarded as the cricket capital of India and till date it has had three grounds where test matches have been played. The Bombay Gymkhana has had the honor of hosting the first ever test played in India during the 1933-34 season against England. After the Second World War ended, the Brabourne Stadium, belonging to the Cricket Club of India (CCI), staged 17 test matches. However, the CCI soon had a dispute with the Bombay Cricket Association and this led to the construction of the Wankhede Stadium in 1974. The stadium is located just a mile away from the Brabourne Stadium.
The first test at the Brabourne Stadium was staged during the 1974-75 season when the West Indies team was touring India. In that test, Clive Lloyd hit an unbeaten innings of 242 – this test is also memorable for being the last test of celebrated Indian leader Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi. The particular game also experienced some crowd disturbance when a fan decided to run on to the ground and congratulate Lloyd but was intercepted and roughly treated by the local police. India won its first test on this ground came against the Kiwis in 1976-77.
Wankhede Stadium has seen some great innings over the years. Gavaskar, one of the favorite sons of Mumbai and India, scored a memorable 205 against his most preferred opposition, West Indies in the 1978-79 series and in the same test Kallicharran, from the opposition team, hit a magnificent 187. Then, in the Jubilee Test with England, Ian Botham took 13 wickets and scored a century to help his side win by 10 wickets. The highest score on this ground has come from the bat of Vinod Kambli when he hit 224 against England during the 1992-93 season. It was a special knock as it was only the third test for Kambli and showed a lot of promise that was sadly never fulfilled.
It was on this ground, during the 1984-85 season, that Ravi Shastri hammered 6 sixes in an over against Tilak Raj of Baroda. Wankhede is one of the grounds in India which enjoys a seaside location and thus provides some assistance for swing bowlers in the early hours and later on in the match helps the spinners as well. However, the pitch has traditionally been in favor of batsmen as can be gauged from the number of memorable innings that have been played on it! In 2005, the stadium attracted a lot of attention for a dustbowl of a pitch where India bundled out Australia in less than 3 days after the first day’s play was washed out by a deluge.
The ground has also seen a couple of other memorable occasions like the one-day match against England in 2001-02 where Andrew Flintoff decided to celebrate his team’s victory with a bare-bodied run across the ground. It was reciprocated in kind by the Bengal Tiger, Saurav Ganguly, at Lord’s in 2002 after the memorable Natwest Trophy triumph. Ganguly has stated often that it was the act of Flintoff at a celebrated ground and an integral part of Indian cricketing tradition that had prompted him to do what he did at Lord’s. This shows how highly the ground is held by Indian cricketers. This is also the ground where India won the 2011 World Cup thanks to a pair of marvelous innings from Gautam Gambhir and Mahendra Singh Dhoni and that, for sure, remains the crowning glory of this hallowed ground.
The first ODI in Wankhede was played January 17, 1987 between India and Sri Lanka and the first T20 came on December 22, 2012 with an encounter between India and England. It has a seating capacity of 45 thousand and is equipped with floodlights. Its curator at present is Sudhir Naik and its two ends are the Garware Pavilion End and Tata End. The stadium also features stands named after Vijay Merchant, Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar.