Unraveling the MCA Stadium in Pune
The Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, affectionately known as MCA Stadium and Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium, stands as a testament to Pune’s love for cricket. This international cricket stadium, nestled on the outskirts of Pune in Gahunje village, holds a storied history.
Before its existence, the Nehru Stadium in downtown Pune served as the home ground for the Maharashtra Cricket team and hosted international matches organized by the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA).
Designed by the acclaimed British architect Sir Michael Hopkins, this stadium boasts a unique deep-bowl shape with a seating capacity ranging from 37,000 to 42,700 spectators. Its construction commenced in 2007, with the first phase granted to Shapoorji Pallonji & Co. Ltd. The stadium was inaugurated on April 1, 2012, by Sharad Pawar, the then ICC President and India’s Agriculture Minister.
With its rich history, distinctive features, and intriguing pitch dynamics, this stadium is a venue for the upcoming 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup matches, including Match 17 IND vs BAN, Match 30 AFG vs SL, Match 32 NZ vs SA, Match 40 ENG vs NED, Match 43 AUS vs BAN.
Pitch and Ground Characteristics
The MCA Stadium‘s ground is renowned for its Bermuda grass surface and innovative rainwater drainage system. Pune often experiences heavy downpours, but this stadium’s outfield drains efficiently, ensuring minimal disruptions to play even during showers. The unique sand-based outfield, developed with technical assistance from STRI Limited, UK, makes it ready for action within minutes after rain.
The stadium has been a witness to remarkable cricketing moments. Steve Smith scored the first-ever Test century here in February 2017, and Steve O’Keefe’s exceptional performance, taking six wickets in each inning, helped Australia secure victory by 333 runs.
Home Advantage and Beyond
The MCA Stadium serves as the home ground for the Maharashtra cricket team and the Maharashtra women’s cricket team. Additionally, it has been the home venue for IPL franchises such as Pune Warriors India, Rising Pune Supergiant, and Chennai Super Kings during different seasons.
In recent IPL history, it hosted matches for Chennai Super Kings when the team had to relocate due to protests in Chennai. In 2022, the entire IPL edition was held in Maharashtra, further solidifying the stadium’s importance in Indian cricket.
From Controversies to Cricketing Excellence
The stadium has seen its share of controversies. In 2017, a sting operation exposed the pitch curator, leading to his removal after alleged malpractice ahead of an India vs. New Zealand ODI. The pitch curator’s suspension was lifted after six months.
In 2018, the Bombay High Court restricted the Maharashtra Cricket Association’s use of Pavana river water for ground maintenance due to illegal water usage.
Weather and Upcoming Matches
Cricket Amidst the Elements
As Pune experiences varied weather conditions, including hot summers and a monsoon season, the pitch at MCA Stadium may favor spinners due to dry conditions. It’s essential for teams to adapt their strategies accordingly.
Looking ahead, the MCA Stadium is set to host five matches in the 2023 ICC World Cup, including the highly anticipated clash between India and Bangladesh.
In conclusion, the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune, is more than just a cricket ground; it’s a testament to Pune’s cricketing legacy, innovation, and resilience, ready to script many more memorable moments in the cricketing world.