Cricket is a religion in this country, and this is peak festival time. Mumbai is one of the meccas of Indian cricket, and the city will see huge crowds as teams compete for the winning spot in the upcoming tournament.
Sample the city’s sporting spirit in the dusty maidans of Mumbai. Here is a guide on the best places to watch the matches when in Mumbai.
WHERE TO GO
Go on a pre-lunch tour of Mumbai’s maidans, home of cricket greats like Gavaskar, Vengsarkar and Tendulkar. Play in the champions’ footsteps by booking a pitch at any of the maidans.
At Azad Maidan, you can watch aspiring young cricketers play against the backdrop of the stunning World Heritage Victoria Terminus building. A little further lies the Cross Maidan, which hosts the Mumbai Kanga league, the only cricket tournament held during the monsoons in the city. The name is derived from the old stone crucifix built under Portuguese rule.
Also check out the Bhikha Behram well – a declared heritage structure – at the southern end built in 1725. The Oval Maidan lies further south and is jam-packed during weekends and holidays with aspiring cricketers of all ages. The Oval has the backdrop of the Venetian Gothic University Building with the Rajabhai clock tower and the High Court building. You can rent the pitches at the southern end for a game.
If you want to check out some cricket memorabilia, head to the Sahara Cricket Gaurav Point in Andheri. It is a cricket gallery with stuff like the trophy of 2011, to statues of Indian cricketers (including a wax statue of Tendulkar), their kits and their photographs.
WATCH THE MATCH
Smaaash, Lower Parel with its college-like ambience, Italian delicacies and great beer is a popular place to watch sports. The one-of-a-kind liquid buffet crafted for cricket and food fanatics at The Irish House makes it a must-visit.
The Cafe Goa @ The Den in Bandra West has a 72-inch screen and fantastic food – try their tiracol tikkis and the hand-tossed special pizza.
The all-wood interiors, vintage sports memorabilia, five flatscreens and two projectors at Geoffrey’s pub at Hotel Marine Plaza (Marine Drive) will make you feel like a king.
Hard Rock Cafe (Worli) has a bunch of bargains and on-the-spot contests for the cricket season.
Manchester United Cafe Bar in Lower Parel was built for sports fans to watch games and has two giant projector screens and five TVs so you won’t miss a ball.