IND v BAN: A metropolis reborn over time, Pune gears as much as welcome again World Cup cricket

The majority of the 37,500-strong turnout must sit in open stands, that, too, within the October warmth, on the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium as India takes on Bangladesh on Thursday. But hardly any of them shall be complaining.

Shubham Walunj, an IT skilled, spent his adolescence in Rajgurunagar – a city virtually 50 km from Pune earlier than pursuing greater schooling right here – represents town’s altering demography.

Once considered the pensioner’s paradise, Pune emerged as a pupil metropolis earlier than remodeling into an IT hub during the last twenty years. Walunj, together with a couple of of his mates and colleagues have taken a day without work from work on Thursday.

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“Ever since the cricket bug bit, all the elders I have interacted with keep discussing the 1996 World Cup match in Pune, when Kenya beat the mighty West Indies,” Walunj, 25, says. “I wasn’t even born then, but I have heard so many tales of the game. I had to be there to witness when the city that’s my home now is hosting its first World Cup match in my lifetime.”

Walunj is referring to the well-known recreation that inserted Pune right into a Cricket World Cup quiz. Playing its maiden World Cup, Kenya surprised the West Indies by 73 runs on the Nehru Stadium – which was the house of cricket in Pune until the plush stadium was prepared initially of the final decade.

That recreation was the one recreation Pune hosted in 1996. The solely earlier event when the World Cup got here calling to Pune was in 1987 when England comfortably defeated Sri Lanka.

Just like non-India World Cup video games in 2011 and 2023, even in 1996, there have been hardly any spectators for the spectacular upset. Among the three,500-odd spectators was a bunch of promising Maharashtra cricketers. Kashinath Khadkikar, the previous Maharashtra allrounder, was among the many group.

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“We were thrilled to watch Curtly Ambrose steaming in. Only the previous day, we were watching the nets and Ambrose during his warm-up bowled a gentle half-volley to Sherwin Campbell who drove it through covers. All through the remaining session, all that Campbell faced from Ambrose was chin-music,” Khadkikar remembers.

“I wish I had stayed on during the chase. But during the formative stage, our group preferred to head home after the first innings since we wanted to watch Pakistan’s big match against South Africa on TV. And then the miracle happened, so it’s weird to say I was there at the match but wasn’t there when Kenya won.”

For the cricket-crazy followers in Pune – and western Maharashtra – the World Cup’s return to Pune provides a uncommon alternative to witness the Men in Blue in motion, most of whom weren’t even born when the final time Pune hosted a World Cup match.

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The entry street to the stadium is horrible regardless of the Maharashtra Cricket Association having organized restricted bus journeys for ticket-holders from town.

There isn’t any public transport – a hazard that’s not restricted to the stadium relating to Pune, and most followers shall be caught in site visitors snarls back and forth the stadium.

Still, with the World Cup calling, the followers will throng the stadium. The drawback of sitting within the warmth is subdued with an uninterrupted view of the taking part in discipline and probably the most spectator-friendly seats within the stands.

The notorious ‘Nagin Dance’, now synonymous with Bangladesh cricket, may come face-to-face with its Pune variant – the Ganpati dance, a wild road dance related to the Ganesh immersion.

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