The World Cup is about to get underway in Ahmedabad, with the defending champions England taking on New Zealand, runners-up of the 2019 edition and one of the most consistent teams in the history of ODI World Cups.
On Sunday, India will start its World Cup campaign by taking on Australia in Chennai.
Unlike 2011, when both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh hosted a few matches, all the games of this World Cup are in India.
The venues include Narendra Modi stadium in Ahmedabad, Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad, Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamshala, MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow, Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune, M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, Eden Gardens in Kolkata, and the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi.
Ahead of the World Cup, major infrastructural upgrades have been carried out in Delhi's Arun Jaitley Stadium. Under the leadership of Rohan Jaitley, president of Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), critical repairs, focussed at bettering the overall player and spectator experience, were completed days before the first game between South Africa and Sri Lanka on 7 October.
India will take on Afghanistan in Delhi on 11 October, and across the tournament, the stadium is set to host five games, including a key encounter between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh on 6 November.
The spectator experience is encompassed in three aspects. One, ease of entry and exit with an efficient ticketing system. Two, the quality of food and beverages and their availability, and three, the utilities.
The stadium has installed new ticketing systems at the entry points which eliminate the need for paperwork, and instead, like most stadiums in the West, rely on barcode scanners. 52 turnstiles have been installed across the stadium, at a cost of Rs 5.5 crore.
Within the pavilion, additional facilities have been added for the players. Given players go through a process to fasten their recovery after the game, new pools for ice baths have been installed in the dressing room.
The entire complex, named after India's former captain, and one of the best batsman in the history of the game, has been redone, eyeing the tournament.
A significant part of the spectator experience has to do with the seating arrangements. Earlier this week, during the warm-up game in Hyderabad between Australia and Pakistan, some journalists were quick to point out the dirty chairs in one of the stands.
However, within the Arun Jaitley Stadium, every single seat has been replaced with new one. When Swarajya toured the stadium, some seats were being installed, and most had the plastic covers intact.
Together, more than 37,000 new chairs have been installed in the stadium. These chairs are a massive upgrade from what was used previously. No differentiation has been made in any stand when it comes to seating upgradation.
Additionally, the floors in all the stands have also been redone. The upgrade includes water-proof floors which prevent water stagnation.
Within the Arun Jaitley Stadium, a new facade lighting system has been installed which will illuminate the venue in the colours of the national flag. New generators, lifts, and fire protection system have also been installed within the complex.
The two hill stands, adjacent to the pavilion and the Old Clubhouse are also being revamped with an array of facilities on the match day.
Across the stadium, to further add to the comfort of the spectators on the game day, 70-odd new restrooms have been built. Within the restrooms, sanitary pad dispensing machines and changing rooms for infants have also been added.
All these restrooms have been redone from the scratch. The focus has been on creating an inclusive atmosphere for the female spectators travelling with children.
Further, across all stands, free RO water for drinking has been ensured with the creation of 30 such water stations, each with 10 taps.
While the authorities have ensured that food and beverages are not sold at an inflated price, even during the recent India-Australia Test Match in February, the water has been made free, unlike many other stadiums in India.
Post-World Cup, the authorities are planning to install a canopy over the top stands, and also install solar panels for electricity generation.
While the stadium has had periodic repair and maintenance works from time to time, the recent upgrades will boost the spectator experience. The expanded square, redone practice areas, and drainage systems will also add to the overall gaming experience.
Tushar is a senior-sub-editor at Swarajya. He tweets at @Tushar15_
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