The game of cricket is full of iconic venues which each provide their own unique charm and make cricket what it is. Cricket is perhaps the only game where a venue has an ability to tremendously sway emotions of players and viewers alike which can significantly change the course of a game. And this is without even getting into those crucial 22 yard of playing surface.
There is just something attractive about certain venues which make for wonderful viewing experience, whether it is the home of cricket in Lords, the boxing day atmosphere at MCG, the intimidating bullring of the Wanderers, the exciting finishes of the SCG , the classical charm of Brabourne or a sporting crowd at the Chepauk. There is a unique joy to be had by being present at any particular venue, but for the sheer excitement and adrenalin rush I believe one cannot get past the Eden Gardens at Kolkata.
The noise created by 100,000 cricket mad fans packed in to the 'Coliseum' is perhaps unmatched by any venue in any sport. Such has been the intensity on occasions that emotions have flowed on to the field when the home team has been in a bit of strife. But nevertheless, for to experience a close game at the Eden Gardens is like no other. The crowd taking on intimidating '12th man' role and creating pressure on opposition where there was none, is a sight to behold.
It is perhaps befitting that the perhaps the greatest test in history of test cricket was played at that very venue, where a rampaging Australian team were brought to grinding halt by Laxman, Dravid, Harbhajan and in no small measure the Kolkata crowd. What happened in yesterday's final session though not comparable to final session of 2001 test but is still a reminder of what the venue can provide. The pitch was good for batting, bowlers were looking ordinary and South Africa were perhaps entertaining thoughts of inflicting another innings defeat. But all it needed was one spark for the ground to come alive and choke the opposition to such an extent that they must have been glad to get off the field early at the end of it. And this was with nearly 2/3 ground empty!! One could only imagine a capacity Eden Gardens crowd on such a day.
Now the match is certainly not over, and SA have a quality attack, but if Indians can continue to show the resolve and fight they have shown so far, and crowd will certainly play its part, it promises to be another exciting match. And it is thanks to days like this that test cricket can never be dead!!