Being seated in the Sawai Mansingh stadium brings a different world, a world of difference away from the palpable excitement of watching truly India’s favorite sport in Mumbai’s Wankhede or Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla.
The Sawai Mansingh Stadium: A royal throne of cricket in desert-land
For a change, there is heat but more of it in the weather. The loudness of the crowd never carries the fiefdom of reckless crowd behavior. The thrill is upbeat but is accompanied by an air of solace. Little wonder why. You are in Rajasthan, after all- a great mélange of colors, culture, and warmth.
There’s a calm in Jaipur’s Sawai Mansingh Stadium that few other grounds in the country can bring.
Centered at the heart of Rajasthan’s culture
True to Rajasthan’s warmth and hospitality, the Sawai Mansingh is a jewel nestled in a bit of Indian antiquity. A place that has remained since many, many years a den of limited overs cricketing action- having hosted nearly every world cricketing body apart from the newbies or associate nations.
There’s also a bit of a logic as to why there may not be a Test here ever. You wouldn’t relish absorbing any of the 5-day heat that comes your way and particularly so during the testing summers. Would you?
But over the course of many decades, it has made a bit of a history despite being mired in some controversy. It’s a site that has gone on to change the course of the ground’s history.
Mired in controversy, but picking itself back
Back in 1987, home to its very first Test between India and Pakistan, the Sawai Man Singh pitch was spluttered by tons and tons of rainfall and accumulation of sawdust, much to the chagrin of Pakistan. The visitors called for an abandonment of the Test.
But ever since coming under the leadership reins of Lalit Modi, also the standard-bearer for the conception of IPL, the Sawai Mansingh has gotten out of cricketing obscurity to being a prominent hotbed of appetizing action in the Western part of the country.
Hosting some precious triumphs for both India as well as enabling other international outfits to chase some cricketing glory, the Sawai Mansingh has over the years hosted some memorable games.
Best cricketing contests at Sawai Mansingh
The 2006 Champions Trophy had an important league game at Jaipur. An unlikely run-scoring dampener saw England bundled out for 125. This was a side powered by Flintoff, Pietersen and, Collingwood. The damage on a slow surface- was done by Harbhajan and Munaf Patel. And in the end, it took something out of Yuvraj to take India home.
In 1996, as part of the Wills World Cup, the West Indies, and Australia clashed here at the Sawai Mansingh in a league game before the semi-final. In what turned out to be a highlight of Brian Lara’s suave and Richie Richardson’s class, the Windies overcame Australia’s moderate ask of 230 with Lara striking a classy 60 under the scorching sun and seeing through Warne and McGrath’s challenge in a characteristically defiant knock wearing colored glasses.
Back in 2013, as part of Australia’s summer tour to India, Virat Kohli stunned the Jaipur crowd with his brilliant 52 ball hundred, the fastest of his ODI centuries in a powerful swatting he served to the touring Aussies.
The quintessential fortress of Rajasthan Royals
Over the years, the Rajasthan Royals have savored playing every bit of IPL cricket here at the Sawai Mansingh- their home ground. It was fortified by the brilliance of Dravid’s exemplary leadership during 2012-13 seasons wherein most sides found it rather hard to breach past the Wall’s sides’ defenses at Jaipur.
Some of the most thrilling games played at one of IPL’s favorite grounds include:
One of the finest ever wins came against Delhi Daredevils in 2012 when Dravid and Rahane struck glitzy fifties at the top order to make light work of a 155 run target.
Back in 2008, the Rajasthan Royals- then powered by the might of Watson, Smith, and Asnodkar- smashed a whopping 197 batting first against RCB and at the back of Warne and Tanvir’s bowling brilliance, scuttled the tourists at 132 alone.
A typical RR pitch at the Sawai Mansingh is a batsman’s delight. There’s lots of grass in the outfield that makes fielding, not a tough, sketchy job and spinners find good assistance thanks to a few cracks in the surface. It remains to be seen what might the pitch offer two years after IPL cricket resumes in the heart of Rajasthan.
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