Pune prepares for World Cup: Facelift for Gahunje stadium, trophy parade

EXCITEMENT IS in the air at Maharashtra Cricket Association’s stadium in Gahunje as Pune will host ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup after a long gap of 27 years.

When India faces Bangladesh on October 19, it will be the first ever world cup contest involving India played at a Pune stadium.

And then there will be four more matches — Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka on October 30, New Zealand vs South Africa on November 1, England vs Netherlands on November 8 and Australia vs Bangladesh on November 12.

“We have hosted 60 major events including IPL but this is a mega event. We are very excited,” said Ajinkya Joshi, Chief Operating Officer, MCA.

In preparation for the matches the stadium is getting a face-lift for the first time since its opening in April 2012. “Gahunje stadium is well-maintained. But since this is an international event we are upgrading the stadium for the first time in the last 11 years. The entire stadium is getting a new coat, a new cover shed is being installed and landscaping is being fine-tuned,” Joshi told The Indian Express. He said that about 120 workers are involved in the effort and the work will finish in time.

“The ICC and BCCI officials paid a two-day inspection visit on Wednesday and Thursday to check the progress and they are satisfied,” said Joshi.

He said that to avoid any traffic congestion outside the stadium, about 20 hectares of land has been rented from villagers to supplement its own parking space.  “Service roads will be repaired before the matches to avoid any inconvenience to visitors,” he added.

Shubhendra Bhandarkar, MCA Secretary, said the ticket sale has already commenced and understandably there’s a huge demand for them.  “The tickets are getting sold immediately after the bookings opened. Our seating capacity is 42,000 but because of stricter rules of ICC about seating, it may come down to around 32,000,” said Bhandarkar.

The MCA officials are confident of the success of the events and said that the rain will not pay much of the spoiler as the sand-based ground with great drainage capacity is adaptive to rains.

“Even if it rains, the play can resume half an hour after the rains stops. The ground dries very quickly,” said Bhandarkar.

MCA officials said that the body’s honorary president Rohit Pawar has put in a lot of hard work to get the matches at the stadium.

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“Thanks to MCA Honorary President Rohit Pawar’s efforts the city is getting to host five world cup matches,” Bhandarkar said.

Another plan that MCA has made for cricket lovers is organising a trophy parade from Marriot Hotel on Senapati Bapat Road to College of Agriculture which will see participation of cricketers including international players. Also a world cup trophy will be displayed at the College of Agriculture for cricket lovers on September 26.

President of MCA, Rohit Pawar said, “As part of the glorious tradition of Indian cricket, a procession of ICC World Cup 2023 trophy will be held in Pune in the presence of International Indian players, MCA officials, players of Indian team, captains of Maharashtra Cricket Team among others. The trophy will then be placed for spectators at the grounds of Agriculture College in Shivajinagar.”

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