Mumbai:Test cricket returns to Mumbai's venerable Brabourne stadium after 36 years when India and Sri Lanka clash in the third and final match here from Wednesday.
The two teams will enjoy the graceful setting of one of the country's oldest cricket venues as India look for a 2-0 scoreline to dislodge South Africa at the top of the official Test rankings.
The stadium, owned by the Cricket Club of India (CCI), was the regular Test venue in the city from 1948 until the Mumbai Cricket Association built its own Wankhede stadium in 1974.
The Brabourne, which hosted the last of its 17 Tests in February, 1973, was given the game against Sri Lanka because the Wankhede is being renovated for the 2011 World Cup.
The 20,000-seater Brabourne was due to host a Test against England last year, but the match was moved following the Mumbai attacks in November which killed 166 people.
The stadium in south Mumbai lies close to landmarks like the Taj and Oberoi hotels, and the Chhatrapati Shivaji rail terminus, targets of the militant attacks.
Tight security will be in force around the Brabourne, CCI officials said, as they worked overtime to ensure a memorable Test match for teams and fans.
Milind Rege, a former first-class cricketer who looks after the playing facilities at the stadium, was confident the Test will produce a positive result.
"There are few sporting wickets around the country like the one at the Brabourne," said Rege. "The track will have something for everyone -- the fast bowlers, batsmen and spinners."
History may not support Rege's optimism -- 11 of the 17 Tests played at the stadium ended in draws, with India winning four and losing two.
But current Mumbai captain Wasim Jaffer says the wicket has changed over the years and will provide interesting cricket.
"The pitches at the CCI will give you a result," said Jaffer, a former Test opener. "The ball generally swings in the evening and will give the spinners the bounce and drift they need."
That should be welcome news for world bowling record holder Muttiah Muralitharan, whose lack of success in the series has ruined Sri Lanka's bid to win their first Test series on Indian soil.
The off-spinner, who has 788 Test wickets, was so frustrated at his return of five wickets from the first two Tests that he spoke of quitting the game earlier than his planned farewell at the World Cup.
"I am 37 years old and I can't bowl as much as in the past because I get tired after 15-16 overs," Muralitharan told the Colombo-based Nation newspaper over the weekend.
"If I find everything is not going well, I might retire before the World Cup."
Muralitharan played second fiddle to the Indian batsmen in both the high-scoring first Test in Ahmedabad, which ended in a draw, and the second game in Kanpur, which the hosts won by an innings and 144 runs.
India will be without in-form opener Gautam Gambhir, given permission to miss the Test for his sister's wedding in New Delhi on Thursday.
The left-hander has hit centuries in each of his last four Tests, including knocks of 114 and 167 in the first two matches of the current series.
Tamil Nadu opener Murali Vijay, who played one Test against Australia last year, is expected to replace Gambhir.