When the schedule for the Ranji Trophy was released last year, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had allotted Assam’s home game against Mumbai to the Nehru Stadium in Guwahati.
But a few weeks ago, the Assam Cricket Association had to shift the fixture to the picturesque Amingaon Cricket Ground, which is nearly 30 kilometres from the city centre, as the Nehru Stadium wasn’t in the best of shape to host the crucial game.
Amingaon ground, a quaint venue in North Guwahati, is close to the iconic Saraighat Bridge — a rail-cum-road bridge over Brahmaputra river — and overlooks the mountains. It was inaugurated in 2021 by Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and has so far hosted BCCI-affiliated age-group tournaments. But it will make its first-class debut on Tuesday, when Mumbai squares off against Assam, and the State association wants to make the moment special.
While most of the bigwigs of the ACA are busy with the first ODI between India and Sri Lanka — which will also be held on Tuesday at the Assam Cricket Association Stadium in Barsapara — a dedicated team has been deputed to ensure that things are just perfect at the Amingaon facility.
At the entrance, it has built a huge makeshift gate commemorating the venue’s first-class debut, while putting up large billboards and banners across the playing arena. The facility does not have any gallery yet and only has a two-storey pavilion called the Kumar Bhaskar Barman Khetra. Downstairs there is a lobby area for the teams to have their meals before or during the game, but over the next few years, the State association plans to work further on the facility, with an aim to make it more spectator friendly.
“We did not have much time, but the association worked on a war-footing to get the venue ready for the Ranji game,” one of the officials involved in the whole process, said.
The venue has been hosting local tournaments and BCCI’s age-group and women’s matches since the end of 2021, and last week, it hosted the Col. C. K. Nayudu Trophy fixture between Assam and Tamil Nadu which was a run feast. The Assam senior men’s team has been training here for a while and ahead of the game against Mumbai, the players and the coaching staff look confident. “We play all our games at this venue. Our tournaments happened here, so every member of the team has played on this surface and they have a fair idea and it won’t be a problem,” Assam head coach Trevor Gonsalves told Sportstar.
Mumbai coach Amol Muzumdar had represented Assam for a few seasons during his playing days, but he did not have any idea about the new ground until recently. “It’s our first game over here. I have never even played here. In fact, I had never seen the ground earlier although I played for Assam for a couple of seasons. It’s a new territory that we have walked into and we are looking forward to it,” Muzumdar said.
The surface appears to be a flat deck, aiding the batters. While the Assam players believe that it could start turning from the third day, Mumbai captain Ajinkya Rahane had a close look at the wicket along with Muzumdar during the team’s training session on Monday, and the coach believes that “it looks like a decent surface…”
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