A full house Eden Gardens stadium during the fourth Test of 1982 series between India and England © Getty Images
A full house Eden Gardens stadium during the fourth Test of 1982 series between India and England © Getty Images

On November 18, 2017, Greenfield International Stadium, Karyavattom, Thiruvananthapuram became the 50th venue to host an international match in India. No country has come even remotely close to this count: with 23 grounds, England is next on the list, while Australia and Pakistan both have 21. In other words, India have more international grounds than any two countries put together.

List of international cricket grounds in India

Ground City (current name) First match Tests ODIs T20Is Total
1 Gymkhana Ground Mumbai 1933 1 1
2 Eden Gardens Kolkata 1934 40 30 6 76
3 MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chepauk Chennai 1934 32 21 1 54
4 Feroz Shah Kotla Delhi 1948 33 24 5 62
5 Brabourne Stadium Mumbai 1948 18 8 1 27
6 Green Park Kanpur 1952 22 15 1 38
7 University Ground Lucknow 1952 1 1
8 Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium Hyderabad 1955 3 14 17
9 Nehru Stadium Madras 1956 9 9
10 Vidarbha CA Ground Nagpur 1969 9 14 23
11 M Chinnaswamy Stadium Bengaluru 1974 22 25 5 52
12 Wankhede Stadium Mumbai 1975 25 21 5 51
13 Sardar Vallabhai Patel Stadium Ahmedabad 1981 1 1
14 Gandhi Stadium Jalandhar 1981 1 3 4
15 Barabati Stadium Cuttack 1982 2 18 1 21
16 Gandhi Sports Complex Ground Amritsar 1983 2 2
17 Sawai Mansingh Stadium Jaipur 1983 1 19 20
18 Sher-i-Kashmir Stadium Srinagar 1983 2 2
19 Moti Bagh Stadium Vadodara 1983 3 3
20 Sardar Patel (Gujarat) Stadium, Motera Ahmedabad 1983 12 23 1 36
21 Nehru Stadium Indore 1983 9 9
22 Keenan Stadium Jamshedpur 1983 10 10
23 Nehru Stadium Guwahati 1983 14 14
24 Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium Delhi 1984 2 2
25 University Stadium Thiruvananthapuram 1984 2 2
26 Nehru Stadium Pune 1984 11 11
27 Sector 16 Stadium Chandigarh 1985 1 5 6
28 Madhavrao Scindia Cricket Ground Rajkot 1986 12 12
29 Nahar Singh Stadium Faridabad 1988 8 8
30 Captain Roop Singh Stadium Gwalior 1988 12 12
31 Indira Priyadarshini Stadium Visakhapatnam 1988 5 5
32 Nehru Stadium, Fatorda Margao 1989 7 7
33 KD Singh ‘Babu’ Stadium Lucknow 1989 1 1 2
34 Moin-ul-Haq Stadium Patna 1993 3 3
35 Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali Chandigarh 1993 13 23 4 40
36 Reliance Stadium Vadodara 1994 10 10
37 Nehru Stadium Kochi 1998 9 9
38 Barkatullah Khan Stadium, Pal Road Jodhpur 2000 2 2
39 Indira Gandhi Stadium Vijayawada 2002 1 1
40 Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium Visakhapatnam 2005 1 6 1 8
41 Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Uppal Hyderabad 2005 4 5 9
42 Holkar Cricket Stadium Indore 2006 1 5 6
43 Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Jamtha Nagpur 2008 5 8 11 24
44 Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium Pune 2012 1 3 2 6
45 Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium Rajkot 2013 1 2 2 5
46 JSCA International Stadium Complex Ranchi 2013 1 4 2 7
47 Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium Dharamsala 2013 1 3 8 12
48 Greater NOIDA Sports Complex Ground Greater NOIDA 2017 5 3 8
49 Barsapara Cricket Stadium Guwahati 2017 1 1
50 Greenfield International Stadium, Karyavattom Thiruvananthapuram 2017 1 1
Total 261 430 61 752

The pattern is worth a close look. India had nine grounds between 1933 and 1968. Of these, Bombay and Madras had two grounds each. Three more grounds — including Bombay’s third — were added between 1969 and 1981.

Then came the boom: 18 more grounds were added to the list in the 1980s alone. This excludes the three in 1981 and 1982, which hosted the first three grounds to host ODIs on Indian soil. To put things into perspective, there have been only 17 more since 1990.

This obviously had to do with India’s 1983 World Cup triumph. As the game spread into the nooks and corners of the country, eight grounds were added to the list in that year itself in locations as diverse as possible: Jaipur and Indore in Central India (some would put Jaipur in the North), Srinagar and Amritsar in the North, Baroda and Ahmedabad in the West, Jamshedpur in the East, and Guwahati in the North-East. The South had no reason to feel deprived: Thiruvananthapuram and Visakhapatnam were soon added to the list.

Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi hosted the first day-night international match on Indian soil, in 1984. The ground also hosted the next match eight years later. However, as the money flowed in and the associations realised the importance of cricket under floodlights, that became the norm in the country.

Here are a few assorted observations from the list of grounds:

The ODI specialists

As mentioned above, 21 (42%) of India’s international grounds were opened between 1981 and 1989. However, a trend is quite noticeable. Of these 21, only 6 have hosted Tests. Of these, 4 have hosted exactly one Test, and a fifth, 2.

Of the 12 grounds, the only one with reasonable Test ‘experience’ is Sardar Patel (Gujarat) Stadium, Motera, Ahmedabad: with 12 Tests, it ranks ninth on the all-time list among Indian venues.

The Mumbai trinity

Mumbai (Bombay) is the only Indian city with three international grounds — Bombay Gymkhana, Brabourne Stadium, and Wankhede Stadium.

Bombay Gymkhana was the first Indian ground to host a Test, or any international match, in 1932. Brabourne Stadium, despite hosting only three matches between 1969 and 2005, was the location for the first T20 International on Indian soil, in 2007.

Other dual internationals

As mentioned before, Mumbai is the only Indian city with three grounds. Fourteen (no fewer) other cities — Chennai, Delhi, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Indore, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram, Pune, Chandigarh, Rajkot, and Visakhapatnam — have two international grounds each.

First ODI ground

It is a staple for quizzers, but in case you are not aware, Sardar Vallabhai Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad hosted the first ODI on Indian soil, back in 1981. It remains the only international match on the ground.

In fact, the next three ODIs in India were played at Gandhi Stadium (now Bishan Singh Bedi Stadium), Jalandhar; Barabati Stadium, Cuttack; and Gandhi Sports Complex Ground, Amritsar. All these were new grounds.

The repeaters

The first Indian ground to host two international matches was Eden Gardens, against England in 1933-34 and against West Indies in 1948-49. Two other grounds ‘achieved’ the same that season: Chepauk, having hosted in 1933-34, also hosted in 1948-49; and Brabourne Stadium hosted two Tests in 1948-49.

The first 15 ODIs on Indian soil were played in different grounds (though Delhi had two grounds) which was another outcome of the post-1983 boom. The first Indian ground to host two ODIs was Keenan Stadium, Jamshedpur  — against West Indies in 1983-84 and against Australia in 1984-85.

Similarly, the first 13 T20Is were at different venues as well (this included two Mumbai grounds). Eden Gardens became the first ‘repeater’, with matches against England in 2011-12 and South Africa in 2015-16.

The states of Indian cricket

Maharashtra (7) expectedly has most grounds, followed by Gujarat (6). In other words, between them the two states have over a quarter of Indian international venues. This is hardly surprising, for these are the only two states with three Ranji Trophy teams, even today.

The next name on the list is a surprise. Many would perceive Green Park, Kanpur as Uttar Pradesh’s only representative on the list. You can hardly blame them. Kanpur used to be a regular feature in India’s Test calendar. Only four grounds — Eden Gardens (40), Feroz Shah Kotla (33), Chepauk (32), and Wankhede (25), have hosted more Tests than Green Park’s 22. Chinnaswamy is also on 22.

Lucknow has two grounds that have hosted one Test each — University Ground (in 1952) and KD Singh ‘Babu’ Stadium (in 1994). The latter has also hosted an ODI.

The fourth entry on UP’s list is somewhat counterintuitive, for India is yet to play there: Greater NOIDA Sports Complex Ground is one of Afghanistan’s adopted homes.

Neutral territories

Greater NOIDA Sports Complex Ground has hosted international matches, but never involving India. The ground is unlikely to feature a match without Afghanistan in near future.

However, it is not the only all-neutral ground in India. Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe played their match in the 1993 Hero Cup at Moin-ul-Haq Stadium, Patna. Three years later, in the 1996 World Cup, Zimbabwe played there again — this time against Kenya. The first match was washed out after 95 balls. It was replayed the day after. Zimbabwe, thus, have played all matches played at the ground — just like Afghanistan at Greater NOIDA.

Just for the sake of information, the first neutral match on Indian soil was a World Cup 1987 match, at Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium, Hyderabad, between New Zealand and Zimbabwe.

Guest appearances

The most matches played by a visiting team at a single Indian ground is 16  — by England and West Indies at Eden Gardens and by Australia at Chinnaswamy.

As expected, Afghanistan and Ireland have played the most neutral matches at a single Indian venue (8 at Greater NOIDA).  Pakistan come next, with 6 matches at Mohali. The entry after that is not an expected one: between 1998 and 2011, Zimbabwe have played four neutral matches at Motera.

Who lent their names?

Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, has seven international grounds named after him — at Chennai (Madras), Indore, Guwahati, Delhi, Pune, Margao, and Kochi.

Additionally, two grounds (at Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada — in the same state, of Andhra Pradesh) have been named after Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi, also a Prime Minister. Rajiv Gandhi, son of Indira and another Prime Minister, has one named after him in Hyderabad as well, taking the family count to ten.

However, it was not always Nehruvian. Mahatma Gandhi (expectedly) has grounds named after him at Amritsar and Jalandhar. The latter is now named after Bishan Singh Bedi, the only international ground in India to be named after a Test cricketer.

Interestingly, India has two grounds named after hockey players — Captain Roop Singh (Gwalior) and KD Singh ‘Babu’ (Lucknow).

MA Chidambaram, M Chinnaswamy, IS Bindra, Seshrao Wankhede, and YS Rajasekhara Reddy (also a former state chief minister) have all been cricket administrators. They have grounds named after them at Chennai, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Mumbai, and Visakhapatnam respectively.

Lal Bahadur Shastri, India’s second Prime Minister, has a ground named after him, at Hyderabad. Both grounds in Ahmedabad have been named after Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (though one of them is spelled Vallabhai), India’s first Deputy Prime Minister.

Other political (and royal) figures on the list are Madhavrao Scindia, Maharaja of Gwalior and holder of multiple cabinets at various points; Maharaja Sawai Mansingh II, last ruling Maharaja of Jaipur state; Barkatullah Khan, a Jodhpur politician; and former Faridabad king Raja Nahar Singh Tewatia.

Moin-ul-Haq, former General Secretary of Indian Olympic Association, lent his name to the ground in Patna (the one with only neutral matches).

The British had introduced the sport to India, and left a few international grounds named after them behind him. The most famous of these is Eden Gardens, named after Emily Eden. Emily was the sister of George Eden, India’s former Governor-General.

Michael Knatchbull, 4th Baron Brabourne, had laid the foundation stone of the ground named after him in Bombay.

It was only obvious that the Jamshedpur ground would be named after someone significant at Tata Steel. They chose John Lawrence Keenan, former General Manager.

Of course, Green Park is the most curious of them all. One Madam Green used to practise horse-riding in the Kanpur ground in the 1940s. The ground also bears the nickname of Woolmer’s Turf (Bob Woolmer was born at a hospital opposite Green Park). Had the name been official, it would have been the only active international ground in India named after a cricketer.

An unusual trivia

There are 217 grounds in the world that have hosted senior men’s international matches. Of them, only one has a numeral in its name: Sector 16 Stadium, Chandigarh.