Four decades of Motera

Four decades of Motera

Motera is celebrating 40 years as a test center this year and while the largely renovated stadium is being praised, one finds that there were some praiseworthy aspects when the stadium was built and completed in 1983. That later.

It’s a venue that has been pretty eventful over the past four decades—wins and losses for the hosts, career high moments for individual players and of course, controversy. The last aspect was seen in the inaugural Test there in 1983.

The virgin pitch became a talking point on the first day when the West Indies batsmen found it difficult to score freely.

Experts used words such as “treacherous” and “shoddy”, while man of the match Michael Holding found “too many greens” (as described in his book, Whispering Death).

West Indies, spearheaded by Kapil Dev, managed 281, with current BCCI president Roger Binny sending back Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge and Vivian Richards within 14 deliveries.

Binny developed a back problem and left the field after bowling six overs never to bowl again in Tests.

India were bowled out for 41 runs short of their first innings lead and scored 241 including Sunil Gavaskar’s brilliant 90. It could have been a hundred, which would have taken him past Sir Donald Bradman’s record of 29 tons, but Tony Cozier said in the 1984 edition of his long-running annual that the master batsman was about a quick lifter from Holding. I could do nothing, and saved it by being caught at first slip (Clive Lloyd). During his innings, Gavaskar became the highest run-scorer in Test cricket, displacing Geoff Boycott (8,114) into second place on the list.

The excitement was palpable when the West Indies were bowled out for 201. Kapil, who could only claim the wicket of Holding in the first innings, took 9–83 in the second innings.

India produced a disastrous performance in the second innings chasing 242, with Holding claiming 4-30.

Despite winning the Test, Lloyd was pulled by the umpiring. “two umpires [K Ramaswami and SN Hanumantha Rao] Standing in this Test is the worst situation in my playing career. They have done a poor job and what is worse is that one of them is not even familiar with the rules of the game.

The next Test at Motera was held in the 1986–87 season, when Imran Khan’s Pakistanis toured. In the drawn game, Gavaskar became the first man to reach 10,000 Test runs, through a cut shot at third man off the bowling of Ejaz Fakih.

The third Test at Motera was against Sri Lanka in February 1994, when Kapil Dev surpassed Sir Richard Hadlee’s record of 431 Test wickets. 432 balloons went up and the crowd gathered to give a standing ovation to the 1983 World Cup-winning captain.

India and South Africa opened the 1996–97 Test series here and Sachin Tendulkar’s Indians registered an unexpected victory on the fourth day.

As in the Motera Test against Pakistan, South African spinner Paul Adams was pelted with stones, forcing captain Hansie Cronje to take his stand and return after 10 minutes on the third day.

On the Saturday of the Test, Javagal Srinath bowled an inspired spell of 6-21, during which he took three hat-tricks. Spinners Anil Kumble, Narendra Hirwani and Sunil Joshi were expected to push South Africa into submission but the pace did it and how! Cronje slammed the track and insisted, “It’s the worst pitch I’ve faced.”

I interviewed ICC match referee John Reid in his room at the Cama Hotel the next day and was shocked when he pulled out the stones thrown at South Africa from his brief case. He was on his way to the then ICC headquarters in London.

In 1999, the talking point of the drawn Test against New Zealand was India’s non-implementation of the follow-on and the selection to tour Australia.

Chairman of the selection committee Chandu Borde was asked why MSK Prasad was included in place of experienced wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia. As it happened, Mongia was sent as a cover for Prasad and returned without appearing in the Test. A lot happened in the first five Tests at Motera.

The current Indian team will be buoyed by the fact that they have won the last three Tests there (all against England – one in 2012-13 and two in 2020-21). But those who were part of the team in 2008 will revisit the scorecard, which shows how the hosts lost to South Africa by an innings and 90 runs. The visitors bowled India out for 76 before the score stood at 494–7 declared. A better performance in the second innings (328) did not help prevent an innings defeat.

And now, back to the impressive points of the 1983 edition of the stadium. Those features included fiberglass seats in different colors for spectators, a ramp for disabled spectators, a good amount of leg room for fans in the stands, 22 gates to enter the crowd, and spacious dressing rooms for the players. Are.

Admittedly, the renovated stadium has double the number of facilities, but the fear of the pitch remains as it was almost 40 years ago.

Both the teams will be on edge. India cannot lose the Test series and still retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy even if Australia wins the Test. But a 2-2 scoreline meant Australia would claim bragging rights.

At the Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera.

Mid-day’s group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance.
He tweeted @ClaytonMurzello. Send your feedback to
The views expressed in this column are those of the individual and do not represent the views of the paper.



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