The Subrata Roy Sahara cricket stadium is all set for its international debut today with the T20 game between India and England. It would be the first international game in Pune in seven years, and no wonder that the tickets have been sold out, despite Indian team not doing particularly well in the recent past.
The stadium might not be new for Indian cricket fans, as it hosted nine Indian Premier League games earlier this year, but there are some interesting new features that were not in place during the IPL.
A couple of months back, the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) became the first state association in India to buy Hover cover for the pitch. In all, there are only seven stadiums in the world that have Hover covers, with Pune stadium being the eighth. “It covers the entire square within two to three minutes, and requires only four or five people to pull it,” chief curator Pandurang Salgaoncar explained.
The other advantage, Salgaoncar pointed out, is that “there is a lot of fresh air and no sweating under the cover. Hence, the game can start as soon as the outfield is ready.”
“The Hover covers look impressive. The facilities at this stadium are good,” India captain MS Dhoni agreed.
This cover is manufactured in England by Griffon Hoverwork, and has cost the MCA approximately Rs 1.25 crore.
“It doesn’t need any maintenance. Its skirt is the most crucial part. Once you push it with the wind, it automatically starts moving. So, as long as the skirt is fine, there would be no issues. Several grounds in the world are already using such covers, and none have reported any problems so far,” Salgaoncar informed.
In another innovative move, the MCA has gone in for a dog squad as part of security, instead of using tall and imposing iron grills that block spectators’ view.
A 20-dog squad, consisting of Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds, would man the security between boundary line and spectator gallery, as well as in the entire stadium. “We have got dogs from various parts of India, as well as three from Germany,” Kishore Naware, in-charge of the dogs training unit, told MiD DAY.
MCA would be the first association in India to opt for dog security. And, as the MCA president Ajay Shirke says, “It’s for the security of players as well as spectators. It’s a very pro-audience approach and not aimed at terrorising people. But if somebody tries to misbehave, he would be asked to behave in a very polite way by our security.”