Eden Gardens was built back in 1864, making it the oldest cricket stadiums in the whole of India. Furthermore, it has a capacity of 68,000, which makes it the biggest stadium in the country as well. It is the home ground of the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Bengal Cricket team and it has also hosted it fair share of international matches. In fact, it is often referred to as the home of Indian cricket. Intrigued and want to find out more? If so, keep on reading, we guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.
A Short History of Eden Gardens
The stadium was finished in 1864 and gets its name from the park that is located right next to it. This park, which is one of the oldest in Kolkata, was designed and created in 1841. It was originally called “Auckland Circus Gardens” after Lord George Auckland, who was the Governor-General of India at the time, but the name was eventually changed to “Eden Gardens” as the designers had the Garden of Eden in mind when they designed it.
The cricket grounds can be found in the Benoy-Badal-Dinesh Bagh part of the city, close to the State Secretariat and opposite the High Court. The very first test match that was held at this venue was between India and England in 1934. It hosted its first ODI match in 1987 which was between India and Pakistan, while the first T20 match played there was between India and England in 2011.
Eden Gardens is the headquarters for the Cricket Association of Bengal. Before the 1987 World Cup took place, the capacity of the stadium was 40,000. It was then expanded to a whopping 94,000. The new renovations in 1987 included changes to the clubhouse, the press box, and the television infrastructure. Even after the renovation was finished many seats were uncovered and some sections of the stadium lacked actual seats. Despite this, more than 100,000 spectators have been recorded on match day on six different occasions.
No more renovation was done on this magnificent stadium until just before the 2011 Cricket World Cup. The ICC had deemed that the stadium wasn’t of a good enough standard to host international matches anymore, so work had to be carried out to rectify this. The plan was to give the stadium a new clubhouse, better player facilities, a better-looking facade, a stronger roof structure, as well as improved overall infrastructure. However, this upgrade meant that the capacity of the stadium had to be reduced to 68,000.
However, they did not get this done in time for the start of the World Cup, so the India against England match was moved to another stadium. They did manage to get the work done in time for the other three scheduled matches. The last of these matches, between Kenya and New Zealand, saw just 15 fans buy tickets to watch it. This is the smallest that the stadium has ever seen.
In 2016, it was decided that a bell should be added to the stadium so that it can be used to signal the start of play. The first person who got to ring this new bell was Kapil Dev, a former captain of India. He rang it at the start of a test match taking place between India and New Zealand in September that year.
The stands at this historic cricket stadium have been named after local soldiers who have shown acts of sheer bravery and cricketers. In January 2017, two of the stands were named after Pankaj Roy and Sourav Ganguly, while two others were named after the cricket administrators BN Dutt and Jagmohan Dalmiya. Three months later, four stands were named to honour the Indian soldiers Havildar Hangpan Dada, Colonel Neelakantan Jayachandran Nair, Subedar Joginder Singh Sahnan, and Lieutenant Colonel Dhan Singh Thapa.
Historic Cricket Matches That Have Been Played at Eden Gardens
Eden Gardens has seen its fair share of great matches over the years, some of which we will take a quick look at now.
- India v England in 1962: This is iconic as it was the first time India beat England in test cricket. It had taken them nearly three decades to achieve this.
- India v West Indies in 1975: India went on to lose the 5-match series, but the fact that they managed to beat such a strong West Indies side that contained the likes of Lance Gibbs, Bernard Julien, Sir Andy Roberts, and Roy Fredericks in the third test showed that India was becoming a force in test cricket.
- India v Australia in 2001: V.V.S Laxman hit 281 runs against Australia, which is still the highest score that has been achieved at this ground. He put on a 376-run partnership with Rahul Dravid, who hit 180 runs. They managed to bat for the whole of day four, and India went on to win the match despite having been forced to follow-on. This was only the third time in the history of test cricket that a team had lost after enforcing the follow-on. This match is now considered to be one of the greatest test matches ever played.
- India v West Indies in 2013: This isn’t an iconic match due to the events that happened on the pitch, but due to the fact that it was the last time that the legendary Sachin Tendulkar played test cricket. Thousands of fans flocked to the stadium to pay their tributes to one of the greatest players that the game has seen. It wasn’t a great match for Tendulkar as he only managed to score ten runs, but the game itself marked the end of an era and is one that Indian fans will forever remember.
Some Other Interesting Facts about This Stadium
- In the 1996 World Cup, India were playing Sri Lanka in the semi-final, but the game had to be called off when rioting occurred due to an Indian batting collapse. Sri Lanka were declared the winners and went on to win the trophy.
- In 1999, Sachin Tendulkar was run out when he collided with Shoaib Akhtar. The Pakistan bowler had clearly impeded the legendary Indian batsman, but he was not reinstated by the umpires. This led to a crowd riot, giving the police no other option but to evict all of the spectators. The rest of the game was played out in an empty stadium.
- In the 2000/01 test against Australia, Harbhajan Singh picked up a hat-trick, making him the first Indian player to do so in this format of the game.
- Mohammed Azharuddin and V.V.S. Laxman have both scored five centuries at this stadium. Laxman also has the distinction of being the batsman who has scored the most runs at this venue (1217).
- The highest score in the IPL was scored at Eden Gardens on the 28th April, 2019. The Kolkata Knight Riders scored 232/2 from their twenty overs against the Mumbai Indians.
- On the 13th November 2014, Rohit Sharma smacked 264 runs off just 173 balls against Sri Lanka. This is still the highest score by a batsman in ODIs.
When is the Best Time to Visit This Iconic Stadium?
This is a great stadium to go and watch a match on as the atmosphere is nothing short of electric. Steve Waugh, a former Australian captain, once said that Eden Gardens is the Lord’s of the sub-continent, while Dileep Vengsarkar said that it is the second-best cricket stadium in the world after Lord’s. Furthermore, Sourav Ganguly said that the roar he heard when India pulled off that famous 2000-01 victory is the loudest roar that he has ever heard.
Many cricket stadiums give fans the chance to have a tour of the stadium when no matches are being played, but this is not the case with Eden Gardens. If you want to visit when no match is being played, then you have to get special permission from the Cricket Association of Bengal.
Is It Easy to Get to Eden Gardens?
Eden Gardens is located right in the very heart of the city, so it is very easy to get there by using the public transport available. The closest metro station to the stadium is Park Street, and then you just need to walk a short distance to the stadium. If you don’t feel like hopping on a bus or a train, then there are plenty of taxi drivers that will be more than happy to drive you right outside the stadium.
Once the game has finished, there is plenty that you can see and do after. For example, Fort William, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Victoria Memorial, the Birla Planetarium, and Princep Ghat are all near Eden Gardens. These are some of the things that you must see when you are visiting this lively city.
There is also a very good selection of hotels near the stadium at a range of different prices, so you can find the perfect one for you while ensuring that you are never too far away from the thick of the action.