Power Ranking the IPL's Best Cricket Grounds and Venues

Alex TelferFeatured ColumnistFebruary 5, 2014

Power Ranking the IPL's Best Cricket Grounds and Venues

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    Tom Shaw/Getty Images

    This year's instalment of the IPL is fast approaching and India's eclectic array of stadiums will soon be transformed into pulsating cauldrons of colour and noise.

    But which of these cricketing arenas make the visiting team's players quiver with fear? And which can often have as much atmosphere as Grace Road on the final day of a dull County Championship match?

    Read on to find Bleacher Report's Power Rankings for the IPL's top venues.

     

    *Please note, the JSCA International Stadium Complex in Ranchi, the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala (see picture above) and the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Stadium in Raipur have been excluded due to only hosting a handful of games last season.

8. Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium

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    Location: Hyderabad

    Capacity: 55,000

    IPL Team: Sunrisers Hyderabad

    Built in 2004, the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium is the seventh biggest stadium in the world and hosts both international and, finally, IPL games, with Hyderabad getting their very own team, the Sunrisers in 2013.

    Like many modern sports stadia, the facilities for players, fans and the media are exceptional, however the atmosphere can sometimes be fairly placid.

    But on the pitch, led by Kumar Sangakkara, the Sunrisers made a flying start and qualified for the playoffs before being eliminated by the Rajasthan Royals last year.

     

    Interesting fact:

    Originally called the Visaka International Stadium, the name was controversially and expensively changed to its current moniker to honour a former Prime Minister.

7. Sawai Mansingh Stadium

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    Location: Jaipur

    Capacity: 23,185

    Team: Rajasthan Royals

    Named after the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II, Jaipur's main cricketing emporium was destined to waste away until Lalit Modi launched a renovation programme in 2006.

    Thanks to that, the ground has become one of the finest in India and is the home of the Rajasthan Royals who, captained by Shane Warne, won the inaugural IPL in 2008.

    The highest ever individual score at the ground was recorded by MS Dhoni who racked up 183 in an ODI against Sri Lanka.

     

    Interesting fact:

    The SMS has only hosted one Test match, which was a controversial draw between India and Pakistan in 1987. After heavy rain wiped out day three, the visitors objected to the amount of sawdust placed on the wicket, which threatened to derail the game.

6. M.A. Chidambaram Stadium

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    Location: Chennai

    Capacity: 38,000

    Team: Chennai Super Kings

    Chennai's M.A. Chidambaram ground, better known as Chepauk, is the spiritual home of cricket in Southern India and the crowd are regarded as one of the most knowledgeable and passionate throughout the country. 

    As evidenced by the standing ovation they gave to Saeed Anwar after he scored 194 for bitter rivals Pakistan against India.

    The spectators have been rewarded for their good grace, in the IPL at least, as their team, the Super Kings, have won the title twice and finished as runners-up on three other occasions.

     

    Interesting fact:

    India's first-ever Test match win took place at the M.A. Chidambaram ground in 1951-52 when they defeated England by an innings and eight runs.

5. M. Chinnaswamy Stadium

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    Aijaz Rahi/Associated Press

    Location: Bangalore

    Capacity: 40,000

    IPL Team: Royal Challengers Bangalore

    Built in 1969 and originally called the Karnataka State Cricket Association Stadium, the ground now known as the equally snappy M. Chinnaswamy Stadium has witnessed some classic cricket moments over the years.

    The first-ever Test there featured the debuts of West Indian legends Viv Richards and Gordon Greenidge while centuries for Michael Clarke and Inzamam on their respective first and 100th appearances were also worth the price of admission alone.

    Of late, the pitch has refreshingly offered pace and bounce, which can favour both batsmen and bowlers as shown by the Royal Challengers' Chris Gayle's destructive 175 off just 66 balls last season. 

     

    Interesting fact:

    The stadium hosted the 1996 Miss World competition!

4. Punjab Cricket Association Stadium

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    Saurabh Das/Associated Press

    Location: Punjab

    Capacity: 26,950

    Team: Kings XI Punjab

    A truly spectacular sight when lit up at night, the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, popularly referred to as the Mohali Stadium, is one of India's most vibrant.

    Raised from a swamp in 1992, the ground hosts international cricket as well as being the home ground of the underachieving Kings XI.

    Sadly, like many grounds around the world, the once bowler-friendly conditions appear to have been replaced by placid batting tracks but this isn't necessarily a bad thing for T20 cricket where runs are king.

     

    Interesting fact:

    The floodlight pylons in Punjab are significantly lower than usual to avoid aircraft flying into the nearby airport.

3. Wankhede Stadium

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    Location: Mumbai

    Capacity: 32,000

    IPL Team: Mumbai Indians

    With stands named after iconic Mumbai cricketers such as Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar, the perfect circle of the Wankhede Stadium feels historic despite being built relatively recently in 1974.

    Situated close to the sea, the ground is known to assist swing bowlers in the early stages of first-class matches but is often an IPL batsman's paradise and saw four of the highest 17 team totals in the 2013 season.

    The ground was at its most atmospheric when it hosted the 2011 World Cup final between the victorious hosts and Sri Lanka although Tendulkar's last ever innings, played here in 2013, pushed it close.

     

    Interesting fact:

    En route to recording the fastest double hundred in first-class cricket history, Ravi Shastri hit six sixes in an over off Baroda's Tilak Raj on this ground in 1985.

2. Feroz Shah Kotla

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    Location: Delhi

    Capacity: 55,000

    IPL Team: Delhi Daredevils

    Part of it may look like an about-to-collapse multi-storey car park but the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in Delhi is an Indian institution and the second oldest in the country.

    Built in 1883, by the Sultan Feroz Shah Tughlaq, the ground is known for having a fearsome home crowd...when its team is winning. Which they normally do.

    In fact India hasn't lost a Test here since 1987 and has only been defeated six times in 66 years of Test cricket history.

    An ODI between India and Sri Lanka was abandoned in 2009 due to a dangerous pitch but the venue has rebounded and Feroz is one of the IPL's most recognisable stadiums.

     

    Interesting fact:

    Anil Kumble took 61 wickets in 11 games there including a legendary 10 for 74 against bitter rivals Pakistan in 1999. 

1. Eden Gardens

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    Location: Kolkata

    Capacity: 66,000

    IPL Team: Kolkata Knight Riders

    Playing at Eden Gardens is considered a rite of passage for a cricketer. Imagine trying to concentrate on your first ball, unable to hear yourself think as 66,000 screaming fans roar the opposing bowler on.

    The stadium is the second largest cricket venue in the world with its pre-1987 capacity of approximately 120,000 being reduced to its present level by a series of renovations and safety requirements.

    As well as acting as home to KKR and regular India international games, the Gardens also played host to the 1987 World Cup final between Australia and England.

    A visit to this hallowed coliseum is a must for any cricket fan fortunate enough to visit India.

     

    Interesting fact:

    The greatest comeback in Test cricket history happened at this ground when despite giving up a first innings deficit of 274, India went on to beat Australia thanks largely to a 376-run partnership between V.V.S. Laxman and Rahul Dravid.