Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium: The Home of Afghan Cricket

The Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium is a cricket venue in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. This stadium can hold 25,000 spectators and was constructed in 2016, making it the youngest international stadium in the country. It is the home ground of the Uttarakhand cricket team and is where Afghanistan play their home matches. As of November 2019, it has hosted 1 test match, 5 ODIS, and 6 T20I games.

The History of the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium

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Uttarakhand was given statehood in the year 2000, but due to its lack of infrastructure and cricket facilities, players started moving elsewhere to fulfil their cricketing needs. Furthermore, due to this lack of cricketing facilities, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) were not willing to allow the team to compete in domestic tournaments such as the Ranji Trophy. The Cricket Association of Uttarakhand were obviously not happy with this situation, so they asked the Government of the state permission to build a cricket stadium with all the necessary facilities. After much deliberation, permission was granted and the first brick was laid on the 23-acre area by Vijay Bahuguna, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, in 2012. Four years later, the stadium was completed and was officially opened by Harish Rawat, the Chief Minister, and Rajeev Shukla, the chairperson of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The stadium is in a picturesque area and comes complete with quality floodlights to allow day/night matches to be played there. The seats have been arranged in such a way that it looks like Aipan from above, which is traditional Kumaoni art. There are a total of 34 corporate boxes, a radio room, a media room, a commentator’s room, a press conference room, numerous places to buy food, and a VIP lounge and seating area. Members can also make use of a bowling alley, table tennis tables, pool tables, and a swimming pool. Players get to make use of a physiotherapy room, a gym, a sauna, an ice bath, and modern dressing rooms and player lounges. It is believed that this stadium cost around 240 crore to build, which the equivalent of $34 million. This sounds like a lot of money, but when you see the stadium up close and in all of its glory, you will agree that it was money well spent. The Afghanistan national cricket team play their home matches here because not many other national teams are willing to travel to Afghanistan to play cricket. Not a bad place to play regular cricket matches if you ask us.

The first international cricket match that was played at this stadium was a T20I match between Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Afghanistan batted first and scored 167 runs from their 20 overs thanks to a 40 from Mohammad Shahzad and a quick fire 36 from Samiullah Shinwari. In reply, Bangladesh were bowled out for 122 runs with 6 balls remaining. This was thanks to Rashid Khan picking up 3 wickets for 13 runs from the 3 overs that he bowled.

"This stadium is yet to host World Cup cricket match, but it has every chance of doing so in the near future thanks to the fact that India are due to host the T20 Cricket World Cup in 2021 and the Cricket World Cup in 2023."

What Other Great Matches Have Been Played Here?

  • Afghanistan V Ireland in 2019: This is the only test match that has been played at this stadium. Ireland batted first and were bowled out for 172 runs thanks to Mohammad Nabi and Yamin Ahmadzai both picking up 3 wickets each. Afghanistan, in their first innings, managed to score 314 thanks mainly to three half-centuries from Rahmat Shah (98), Hashmatullah Shahidi (61), and Asghar Afghan (67). Ireland did better in their second innings and scored 288, meaning that Afghanistan needed just 146 runs to win. They chased this down with consummate ease thanks to Rahmat Shah’s 76 and Ihsanullah Janat’s 65*.
  • Afghanistan V Ireland in 2019: This was a day/night ODI match that was played on the 28th February. Ireland batted first and were bowled out for just 161 runs, with 89 of those runs coming off the bat of Paul Stirling. Mujeeb Ur Rahman was the pick of the Afghanistan bowlers as he picked up 3 wickets for 14 runs from his 10 Once again Afghanistan chased their target down with ease, overtaking Ireland’s scored with 49 balls remaining.
  • Afghanistan V Bangladesh in 2018: This was a T20 night match that was played on the 7th June. Afghanistan batted first and scored 145 runs from their 20 overs, with most of the batsmen chipping in. In reply, Bangladesh fell 1 run short, despite a fine 46 from Mushfiqur Rahim and a 45 from Mahmudullah.
  • Afghanistan V Ireland in 2019: This was a T20I match that was played on the 23rd February. Afghanistan batted first and notched up a huge 278 runs from their 20 overs thanks to Hazratullah Zazai’s stunning 162 runs from 62 Usman Ghani’s 73 from 48 wasn’t too bad either. Ireland could only manage 194 runs from their 20 overs, thanks to a 4-wicket haul from Rashid Khan.

Some Fun Statistics to Enjoy

  • Asghar Afghan holds the record for most ODI runs scored at this venue. In the 5 matches that he has played here, he has scored 226 runs (3 half-centuries) at an average of 33
  • Hazratullah Zazai has the record for the most T20I runs scored at this stadium. In the 3 matches that he has played here, he has scored 204 runs at an average of 00. He has hit 18 6s and 17 4s during his time at the crease here.
  • George Dockrell holds the record for most ODI wickets taken at this stadium. In the 5 matches that he has played here, he has taken 8 wickets at an average of 00. His best bowling figures are 3/51.
  • Rashid Khan holds the record for most T20I wickets taken at this ground. In the 6 matches that he has participated in, he has taken 19 wickets at an average of 42. His best bowling figures are 5/27.
  • Tim Murtagh has conceded the most runs in one ODI innings at this stadium. In a match against Afghanistan on the 5th March 2019, he conceded 60 runs from the 10 overs that he bowled. Two of his ten overs were maidens, so he technically conceded 60 from 8
  • Boyd Ranking has conceded the most runs in one T20I innings at this ground. In a match against Afghanistan on the 24th February 2019, he conceded 53 runs from the 4 overs that bowled. At the end of Afghanistan’s innings, he has an economy of 25.

Would We Recommend You Visit This Cricket Stadium?

If you are in Dehradun and there is a cricket match being played at this stadium, then you definitely should think about going along to watch it. The atmosphere is always very good in this stadium and there are stunning mountains in the background and rivers nearby. Ashgar Stanikzai once said that he loves playing at this ground because it reminds him of his homeland. The vast majority of stadiums in India do not allow the public to visit when matches are not being played, and this is one of them. Therefore, if you would like to have a quick look inside, your only option is to try and sweet talk a member of staff into allowing you entry for a couple of minutes.

Is it Easy to Get to the Stadium?

Many stadiums in India are very easy to get to by public transport, but this isn’t one of them we are afraid. In fact, as far as cricket grounds go, this is in the middle of nowhere. If you want to go to the stadium, you will need to hire a rental car or get a taxi. If the match being played is a big one, the Cricket Association of Uttarakhand might even sort out buses to pick up spectators from certain points in the city.

Once you experienced the stadium, what else is there to see in Dehradun? Well, in our opinion, you would be quite foolish to miss out on Neer Garh Waterfall, The Beatles Ashram, Kempty Falls, Kunjapuro Devi Temple, Company Garden, Jabarkhet Wildlife Reserve, and Happy Valley. When it comes to finding a place to stay during your visit you will be glad to hear that there are a plethora of hotels dotted around this city. No matter what you are looking for, you will be able to find a suitable hotel with relative ease.