Hitesh Chavda (MeraNews, Nadiad): With the Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium at Motera in Ahmedabad undergoing renovation, Nadiad has been given the opportunity to host to its first Ranji Trophy match in 36 years.

The last Ranji Trophy match at the J&J Science College ground was played in 1981, when Gujarat faced Bombay.

“In 1981, the last Ranji Trophy cricket match was played here in Nadiad town. After that, the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) changed the rules and guidelines for matches, so no matches have been played here since then,” said Sunil Pathak, a former cricketer from Nadiad who represented the Gujarat team in the Ranji Trophy, the first-class cricket championship contested by India’s regional cricket associations.

“After this, under-19 Cooch Behar Trophy matches will be played here. Then, five under-14 Gujarat state-level matches will be played. The reports on the ground are good and that is the reason that we have been given a Ranji match after 36 years,” said Pathak.

Pathak played 24 matches in the domestic tournament and was vice-captain of the Gujarat team in 1987-88. Recollecting his time with the Gujarat team, he said, “We used to commute early morning by local train, at 4.40am, to Ahmedabad to practise.”

The Kheda District Cricket Association (KDCA), which was established in 1968 and is affiliated with the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA), has renovated the facilities at the stadium, which now boasts a new pavilion and dressing rooms, an upgraded side-screen, high-definition (HD) camera coverage and six practice wickets.

Nadiad, home to Indian international cricketer Axar Patel, is currently hosting a match between Gujarat and Kerala.

Jayanti Desai, a former Gujarat cricketer who now resides in London, came specially to watch the current match. “Today I am back in India, at my home ground, and watching a Ranji Trophy match here. It is a really great day for me,” he said.