Cricket returns to Gandhidham after gap of 15 years as the port city is all set to organise the Ranji Trophy match between home team Saurashtra and Mumbai from December 8 to 11 at the IFFCO cricket ground.Incidently the last Ranji Trophy match held on this ground was also between these two teams way back in 1985. With no turf wickets at their disposal, no matches were conducted at this venue ever since. In fact, only two Ranji Trophy matches have been held at this venue The last match, 15 years ago, boasted a full fledged Mumbai team including Mankad brothers, Ghulam Parkar, Eknath Solkar and Sandeep Patil. The match then was played on a matting wicket. Thus the ensuing match will be the first first-class match to be conducted on a turf wicket.'We decided this year to give maximun exposure to cricket in Gandhidham and surrounding areas. That's why we decided to give this Ranji Trophy match and the Wills Trophy match which will be played later on," Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) secretary Niranjan Shah said.Given the positive response from the SCA, a few patrons involved in popularising the game recently formed the Kutch District (Rural) Cricket Association and got it affiliated to the SCA.IFFCO's S K Mishra has been appointed as president and Narendra Jadeja is the secretary of the new body. Anil Sharma is the joint secretary. Narendra Jadeja, a former Ranji trophy player is obviously very delighted to host this match. Cricket in Gandhidham was in dire straits and there were hardly any players making their presence felt. But this match will make a lot of difference.According to Narendra Jadeja and Anil Sharma, this match - given the atmosphere and the Mumbai stars - will definitely do a world of difference to the future of cricket in Kutch. The response of the cricket loving public too is very encouraging. The tickets have been priced at nominal rates of Rs 40 and Rs 20. The organisers hope a crowd of 15,000 on the opening day as the response for the sale of the tickets has been good.Board of Control for Cricket in India's pitch committee member Dhiraj has inspected the turf wicket. He has expressed satisfaction over the state of the wicket, which was formed in 1977 and few local matches have taken place so far.
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