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Official Review by Hemant Dua, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Established in 1883, the Feroz Shah Kotla Ground has served as home venue for Indian Premier League team Delhi Daredevils since 2008. It is owned by the Delhi District Cricket Association.
Being an international cricket stadium, as of April 2013, it has played host to 32 test matches and 23 One Day Internationals. Kotla has become something of a fortress to the Indian national team, as the men in blue haven’t lost a single test match here since 1987, where they suffered defeat at the hands of the West Indies.
Arguably, the standout moment in the stadium’s history came in 1999, when leg-spinner Anil Kumble lead India to victory against fierce rivals Pakistan, by claiming all 10 wickets in the opposition’s second innings. In the process, he became only the second bowler after Englishman Jim Laker to do so.
The floodlighting towers were added in 2007–08.
In December 2009, a ban was imposed by the ICC, the game’s governing body, on the Feroz Shah Kotla Ground, preventing the stadium located in the national capital from staging international matches for 12 months. It came after an India vs. Sri Lanka ODI was called off because match referee Alan Hurst deemed the wicket prepared for the game as “unfit”. The ban did end in time for Feroz Shah Kotla to serve as one of the venues for the Cricket World Cup 2011, co-hosted by India.
Delhi Daredevils had a reasonable cumulative home record in the first five seasons of the Indian Premier League. That is, up until the end of IPL 2012. Until then, their win percentage at Feroz Shah Kotla stood at 51.85%, and they were considered a formidable outfit, having made the last-four stage of the competition (now termed the Playoffs) thrice.
Things were to change in the sixth edition of the IPL. The Daredevils didn’t have the IPL campaign their fans would have hoped for in 2013. They won a mere three of the 16 games they contested, and just one Daredevils victory was registered at Kotla. The other two came at Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium in Raipur, which had been declared the Daredevils’ secondary home venue before the start of IPL 2013.
(Note: all exchange rates are as of the time of this posting, August 2013.)
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Aerated (carbonated) drinks and packaged snacks, like potato wafers, are sold at prices higher than the recommended retail price. Bottled water would cost you roughly ₹40 (65˘). For regular ticket-holders, the mini canteen supplies main course dishes such as Biryani at ₹150-₹200 ($2.50-$3.25), while mini-pizzas are available at ₹50 (80˘). Truth be told, there isn't an awful lot of variety.
In sharp contrast to the aforementioned ticket-holders, those who purchase box tickets have enough food to choose from. The catering is top-notch, and beer is also included for free.
The current DD anthem, "Munday Dilli Ke", is played regularly at games, but the stadium DJ usually mixes things up by playing popular Bollywood tracks to get the crowd grooving.
The IPL has embraced the concept of cheerleaders since its inaugural season. Cheerleaders are seen as a crucial part of the evening's entertainment, and they have a leading role to play in generating an atmosphere. Every four, six, or wicket for the home team is greeted with a buoyant jig.
The stadium has numerous hospitality zones, including 37 exclusive corporate boxes on the west side of the venue. If you have the money, these are the best places for you to sit, both in terms of view and comfort.
The DD mascot comprises of a red ball donning a yellow cap with devil horns on it, while clutching a smaller white cricket ball. This mascot doesn't have an official name.
Feroz Shah Kotla is located on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, a busy and crowded road (especially so after a game ends) in central Delhi. Connaught Place, the capital city's commercial and entertainment hub, is at most a ten-minute drive away. CP, as it is abbreviated, is home to some fine restaurants, such as Parikrama - The Revolving Restaurant, Blues Café and Bar, My Bar Lounge and Restaurant, and Pind Balluci and Warehouse Café, amongst others. Fast food joints like McDonald's and KFC would be your port-of-call if you're just looking for a post-game snack. CP now has Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts outlets, and both have turned out to be immensely popular.
Ambedkar Stadium, formerly used by the Indian National Football team for hosting international tournaments like the Nehru Cup, and presently the home venue of local team New Delhi Heroes FC, is a major landmark in vicinity of Kotla.
India Gate, a national monument of immense historical significance, is in the area and ought to be on the must-visit list of tourists and travel enthusiasts visiting Delhi.
The IPL has been dubbed the "world's richest cricket tournament". As per Brand Finance plc, its brand value was estimated to be $3.03 billion. It is obviously a major extravanganza in this country, and arguably the most awaited sporting event for cricket-crazy India, assuming of course that we are talking about a non-World Cup year.
Being the capital team, the Delhi Daredevils have a massive fan base, and in spite of the miserably hot weather in the city during the IPL period, tickets for Kotla matches sell like hotcakes. The atmosphere generated on match-day is electric. Figures such as Virender Sehwag, Mahela Jayawardena, David Warner, and Morne Morkel enjoy cult status among the Kotla faithful.
Their first anthem, "Khel Front Foot Pe", was composed by acclaimed playback singer Kailash Kher, and would be played at every Delhi game. In 2012, the franchise launched a new official song, "Munday Dilli Ke", and it was warmly received by Daredevils fans, who instantly took to social networking sites to express their delight.
Among celebrities, Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar is the Daredevils' most ardent fan, and was their brand ambassador in the inaugural season of the IPL back in 2008.
Reaching Feroz Shah Kotla is now easier than ever before, and the Delhi Metro rail service ought to be credited for this. The Pragati Maidan metro station on the blue line is a mere 4 km away from the stadium, while New Delhi metro station on the yellow line is even closer, situated 3 km distant from it. From this point, it is usually auto-rickshaws that ferry passengers to the stadium.
Alternatively, one may use the services provided by the Delhi Transport Corporation to get there. Commuters can board one of buses heading to Ambedkar Stadium Terminal, and deboard on the last stop. From there, getting to Kotla will require just a 5-7 minute walk.
Those driving to Kotla can park at the stadium, provided they have a parking label. If they don't, the only other parking options are at Mata Sundri Road or Shanti Van, neither of which is too far off the destination.
There are as many as 18 access gates for entry into the ground.
Like at any other IPL stadium, tickets here are available in various denominations. If you are practicing frugality, you could opt for the ₹500 ($8.25) seats. In that case, you're likely to find yourself in the top tier, and yet able to get a decent, unobstructed view of the field of play. I wouldn't hesitate in declaring this money well spent, considering the atmosphere is incredible at home games for the Daredevils.
Ticket prices for the VIP sections can be as costly as ₹12,000 ($197.40), but these box tickets are well worth the sum you pay for them. Not only does it assure you of a great view of the action, you are also fuelled on unlimited free food and beer, making for the ultimate viewers' experience.
Adidas is one of the associate partners of the Delhi Daredevils, and there is plenty of Daredevils merchandise available at select Adidas stores in Delhi, such as the showroom in Connaught Place. The items available include caps, tees, and slippers. Alternatively, merchandise can be purchased directly off the official DD website. Available accessories include bags, mugs, and sippers. You can also order certain memorabilia online, and have it delivered to your doorstep.
The official Delhi Daredevils app for Apple, Android, and Windows phones was launched in 2012, and is the ultimate source for all the information a Daredevils fan needs, including news, live scorecard, pictures, videos, and a regularly-updated IPL table. Stadium-related news, too, can be tracked with the help of this. It is now rated a five-star app on the Android market.
I have only one complaint, albeit a major one. The general crowd is not permitted to take cameras inside the stadium premises, which is surprising, as other recording devices such as cell-phones are allowed. Only press photographers or those with media credentials can hope to get decent pictures of the stadium in its magnificence.
All in all, I was very satisfied with my visit to Kotla. For ardent cricket fans living in or visiting the capital, attending a Daredevils game at the stadium should certainly be on your bucket list...unless, of course, you're already a regular.
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