Pune, Mar 31: The Sahara Pune Warriors will finally get to play at home this Indian Premier League as the Rs 260-crore International cricket stadium, just 20kms from the city is set to be inaugurated on Sunday.
Located at Gahunje, the stadium would be the home ground of the Sahara Pune Warrior, led by former India captain Sourav Ganguly, and is scheduled to host its first match on April 8.
Built and owned by Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA), the Gahunje stadium with a capacity of 45,000, will be the venue of as many as nine IPL matches this season for the first time in the history of the tournament as the Warriors previously captained by the ailing Yuvraj Singh had played all their matches outside Pune while the construction work of the sprawling structure was underway.
"The first phase of the stadium is ready to host the IPL matches when Sahara Pune warriors will take on 8 other teams at their home ground for the first time. "A total of nine matches will be played in the new stadium as Pune has also got a chance to host one playoff match between the first placed team and second placed team on May 22," said Ajay Shirke, MCA president.
Shirke said Pune warriors captain Ganguly had already visited the stadium with other team members for practice.
Highlighting the features of the stadium, he described it as an "architectural wonder" designed by Sir Michael Hopkins, UK, in civil engineering.
One of the most important aspects of the stadium is stated to be its rain water drainage system. "Many times rain plays the spoilsport and even light showers for some time force organizers to alter the match duration. To overcome this problem MCA has opted for sand based outfield developed departmentally with technical assistance from a UK company," the MCA president added.
He said the system had been successfully tested and even during heavy showers, water on the outfield drained out fast making it ready for play again just in a few minutes time.
"The stadium and the seating arrangements have been designed in such a way that an unobstructed view is assured from every location, making it the best match viewing experience, enhanced by four big LED screens strategically placed to watch replays," Shirke noted. Statue of legendary cricketer D B Deodhar will adorn the stadium to be inagurated by ICC president Sharad Pawar in the presence of Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and Subrata Roy, Chairman, Sahara India Pariwar.