Gaurav Kapur’s Guide To Weekend Cricket In Mumbai

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GAURAV KAPUR’S GUIDE TO WEEKEND CRICKET IN MUMBAI

WORDS BY GAURAV KAPUR

Gaurav Kapur is an actor, television personality and self-confessed cricket freak. He’s the presenter (and additional vowels) in Extraaa Innings T20, a talk show dedicated to pre and post-match analysis of the Indian Premier League telecasts. Gaurav tells us everything we need to know about weekend cricket in Mumbai.

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For the super enthusiastic, stadium loving cricket freak

Mumbai is a cricket city. Spaces are carved out in parking lots, building driveways, and it wouldn’t be strange to see a Sunday gully cricket game on a main road. You can catch hundreds of amateur cricketers playing on the road and amongst traffic, but there are many proper stadiums to appreciate the sport in Mumbai as well.

• DY Patil is a great sports facility, but the fact that it is half way to Pune can be a dampener.
• The Wankhede is definitely the most energetic (or noisiest, depending on how old you feel), but for an international fixture or an IPL game it can be a chore to line up along Marine Drive before you eventually get in.
• I would recommend CCI (Brabourne Stadium) for the best viewing experience. Especially if you can smooth talk a member to take you in. Then you’re aboard the old-school express, with food and drink on the balcony while you watch the cricket. No big ticket matches here, but you can still see quite a few engaging games. This is a cricket-watching experience from the colonial era.

DY Patil Sports Stadium, Sion-Panvel Express Highway, Nerul, Navi Mumbai 400 706.

Wankhede Stadium, D Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020.

Brabourne Stadium, The Cricket Club of India, Dinshaw Vacha Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020.

The Cricket Club of India (CCI) by Herry Lawford is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Cricket Club of India (CCI) by Herry Lawford is licensed under CC BY 2.0

For a lazy afternoon spent people watching (as well as cricket watching)

Shivaji Park is considered the cradle of Bombay cricket (from the pre Mumbai era). Many modern day greats have learned their skills on the hallowed turf of this historic ground. Sitting atop the low boundary wall trying to spot the next Gavaskar or Tendulkar is still heaps of fun. There’s an idli vendor on a cycle who used to park himself along that wall, and that chutney was good enough to use as a face pack. If he’s still there, apply it on your face, stretch out on the wall, soak up the sun and avoid the boundary balls. Or you could just eat the idli and watch the cricket if you don’t want to get as immersive an experience as me.

Shivaji Park, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028.

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Photograph by Suruchi Maira

For the pub lovers

There’s a real shortage of good sports bars in the city. There used to be a fair sprinkling a few years ago: the screens, the pool tables, the familiar faces. But now a few beers and your buddies in someone’s TV room has become “my local”. Also, unless it’s a T20 game, sitting in a bar for a full day (or five) is not really encouraged (by friends and family).

For the stalkers hoping to catch a glimpse of their favourite cricketers, security/high walls/barbwire notwithstanding

The international cricketers are on the road for most of the year, but the MCA club in BKC has the most up to date practice facilities favoured by the modern lot. When in the city, the local Indian cricketers are to be found here. The walls are high, the security is tight. But that shouldn’t stop you.
Disclaimer: if you get caught, the CIA and I will deny any knowledge of your existence. Godspeed.

Mumbai Cricket Association, RG-2, G-Block, Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai 400 051.

For the visitor aching to play a spot of cricket

A few years ago, I had filmed a small feature for CNN in which I took the crew to the cricket grounds of Mumbai in the monsoon. We wanted to capture the love for cricket this city has always had. Where even the monsoons and knee-high grass can’t stop cricket games. In fact, the Kanga League is the only wet weather cricket tournament in the world and has been on for almost 70 years. Come rain or shine, there’s always some cricket being played in the city. So there is plenty to watch, but you can’t just join a game willy-nilly. With so many clubs and small leagues competing for space with real-estate builders, you might need to carry a club to force your way into a game (aforementioned disclaimer applies). There are a few indoor simulators that can be a bit of fun. They’re not a patch on the real deal like Azad Maidan, but as far as synthetic experiences go, this virtual game is a happy quick fix.

Bonus

Another spot I quite enjoy is the stretch of gymkhana grounds running along Marine Drive. Some are used for weddings these days, but on a weekend you could see four or five games happening along that half kilometre stretch. Each major religion seems to have their own gymkhana, but the cricketers and viewers needn’t have any religious affiliation. Cricket is the principle religion in these parts, one that this entire city is on the same page about.

Marine Drive Gymkhanas, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road, Mumbai 400 002.

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Photo by Anne-Mette Jensen is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

 

 
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