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Iconic Eden Gardens brings in hi-tech to tackle rain threat

Iconic Eden Gardens brings in hi-tech to tackle rain threat
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Come April 3, an expected full house of 65,000 would scream their lungs out in the World Twenty 20 final at a greener and prettier Eden Gardens, with a revamped drainage system which promises to rid the iconic cricket venue of its perennial water-logging problem.

Every cricketer who has played at the Eden agrees his cricketing experience would have been incomplete without a game at this ground. Many say it is cricket’s answer to the Colosseum, the historic ampitheatre in Rome.

“It’s a very special ground. It feels great (to play there),” India’s former stylish bat V V S Laxman has said time and again, echoing the sentiments of scores of other players.

The stadium held its maiden Test match -- only the second on Indian soil -- in 1934 as India took on England. Eden’s crowning glory came in 1987 when it hosted the World Cup final that was won by Australia before a 95,000-strong crowd.

Ex-Bengal captain Raju Mukherjee, who has authored a book on the historic venue, says greatness of Eden Gardens lies in the people who come to watch.

“The beauty of Eden lies in its crowd and the turf. It is the crowd that draws the biggest cricketers from the world over. They have reduced the capacity considerably from 100,000 to 65,000 now, but it is still a massive crowd and together they can take the roof off,” Mukherjee told IANS.

However, eyebrows were raised when the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced that Eden would host the final of the World Twenty 20. It has been a historic venue no doubt, but what if it rains?

And the doubting Thomases did have a case.

On two previous occasions when it rained in the city on match days, games at the Eden Gardens were washed out.

In the Indian Premier League (IPL) edition eighth match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals as well as the T20 international between India and South Africa last year in October, not a ball could be bowled.

But the Cricket Association of Bengal claims rain can no more play spoilsport. With its new president Sourav Ganguly leading from the front, the CAB mandarins have been working overtime to better the drainage system.

“We had brought in a company from Delhi to look into the problem of ground water-logging. “Then we followed instructions of (BCCI pitch curator) Daljit Singh and we worked as a team with Ashish Bhowmick (East Zone curator), Sujan Mukherjee (Eden Gardens curator) and me. We did the deep coring which was of prime importance.” CAB ground committee head Debabrata Das told a news agency. 
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