As the final Test match is underway between hosts India and Australia in Ahmedabad from Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in whose name the stadium is named, and his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese attends the match, all eyes are on whether the first day sets a new record for the highest attendance in Test cricket.
Modi and Albanese took a round of the sports area on a golf car before the start of the fourth Test match. They handed over Test caps to their respective team captains Rohit Sharma and Steve Smith.
Narendra Modi Stadium, the world’s largest cricket stadium, located at Motera has a seating capacity of 1,32,000. The previous record of highest attendance in a single day of a Test match is of 91,112 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia in the Ashes in 2013-14.
While the administration has been working overtime for nearly a fortnight to host Indian and Australian prime ministers, this apart from readying the pitch and stadium for the game, the ruling BJP in Gujarat is trying to ensure that the stadium is packed to its capacity. In 2020, just before the Covid-19 outbreak in India, Modi had hosted the then US President Donald Trump at the Stadium, signalling its inauguration.
Sources said that MPs, MLAs and corporators have been assigned the task of getting party workers or whosoever is interested to see the match. Messages by party workers are doing the rounds on social media in which they have asked people interested in watching the game to register their names before a particular date and time. The messages also specifically mention that transport arrangements have been done by the BJP.
Replying to a query, Gujarat BJP media convener Yagnesh Dave said party workers who have been given passes will go on the first day. The arrangements of the passes have been done by MLAs and other leaders, he said.
Interestingly, the website that sells the tickets shows almost the entire stadium full, except for certain key sections at the Pavilion End, for the first day. Quite a good number of seats are available for the rest of the days.
Modi and Albanese are getting together to watch the game to mark 75 years of cricketing ties between the two countries. They are expected to spend about two hours at the Stadium.
Albanese arrived in Ahmedabad late afternoon on Wednesday and paid a visit to Gandhi Ashram, set up by Mahatma Gandhi. Modi had arrived late evening on Wednesday.
Australian off-spinner Todd Murphy has been excited to play in front of such a large number of spectators. During his interactions with the media, Murphy has spoken about what he feels ahead of the fourth Test of Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
On Tuesday, Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel visited the stadium to oversee the arrangements.