Mumbai: The relaid playing strip at the refurbished Wankhede Stadium, which is to host the World Cup final on April 2, on Saturday passed muster with the umpires following the first competitive tie played at the ground since May, 2008.
"The wicket behaved beautifully," remarked umpires Vilas Karhadhad and Vishwas Nerurkar after officiating in the semi-final of Mumbai Cricket Association-conducted T20 Trophy tie between Fort Vijay and Mumbai Police.
The stadium built at the then Lloyd's Reclamation ground in South Mumbai in 1974 was taken up for total revamp in May, 2008 after hosting the last home tie of IPL franchise Mumbai Indians.
After facing a lot of negative publicity in the wake of PILs, including a three-month stoppage of work at the Sunil Gavaskar Pavilion on the east side- the most popular and cheap stand - adjacent to the Western Railway suburban track, the stadium hosted its first match on Saturday.
Curator Sudhir Naik was a relieved man after the match and said a lot of hard work had gone into making the ground fit for hosting cricket matches, especially in the prestigious World Cup.
"There were a lot of difficulties that were overcome. We were handed over the central square for preparing the pitches by L and T (Larsen and Toubro which was in charge of the refurbishment) in March and work commenced. We got the outfield in pieces to work upon and the last of the cranes left the ground only last month," he said.
Naik said it was a race against time from procuring tonnes of red soil, which was in short supply, from Khopoli (in neighbouring Raigad district) to doing other ground related work.
"But for Mr Sharad Pawar (president of MCA), this stadium could not have been completed in time," the former Mumbai and India opener said.
Naik brushed aside concerns that the shadow of the cantilevered roof of the stadium would creep up on the playing track during the World Cup ties.
"You yourself saw today that there was no shadow near the pitch till 5 pm. The international match pitches are further to the east side and the first World Cup match is on March 13 (a day match between New Zealand and Canada). The shadow would not be even halfway to the playing area around the same time then."
"The second match on March 18 (between New Zealand and Sri Lanka) is a day/night match and the floodlights would be on. There should not be any problem," he said.
Naik, however, agreed that it could pose a problem during the early part of the next cricket season when the India-West Indies Test would be held here.
"In November the shadow of the roof would creep on to the track slightly earlier than now and the sun would also not be as bright as it is now. It can then be a bit tricky for a batsman to face a fast bowler (with the ball travelling from shadow to light or vice versa)," he said.
The lights at the stadium would be tested under match conditions tomorrow when the final of the T20 Trophy would be played, according to MCA official Vinod Deshpande.