India’s Umesh Yadav (left), Cheteshwar Pujara and Kuldeep Yadav (right) warm up during a training session at the Narendra Modi stadium in Ahmedabad. AFP
Stand-in Australia skipper Steve Smith said on Wednesday it would be “pretty special” to play in front of what promises to be a bumper crowd at the world’s largest cricket stadium in India.
The 132,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad will host the fourth and final Test between India and Australia from Thursday.
An unidentified source at the stadium said that more than 100,000 people were expected for the first day of play, a number also widely cited by Australian media.
The current world-record attendance for a day of Test cricket is the more than 91,000 who packed the Melbourne Cricket Ground for an Ashes Test between the hosts and England in 2013.
The stadium source said 20,000 of the tickets were regular sales to fans and the other 80,000 were snapped up by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“It’s a good chance it will be a pretty cool atmosphere,” said the 33-year-old Smith, who is standing in for regular skipper Pat Cummins.
“Lot of guys haven’t seen the stadium before, they all walked in today and it’s huge — it holds 130,000 – if we get somewhere up around that number, it will be unbelievable, the atmosphere.
“We know how loud some of these grounds are over here in India. It will be a really great vibe and atmosphere to be able to play in front of them.”
Modi will attend on Thursday alongside his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese, in what is widely seen as a show of force in his home state of Gujarat.
“I think it is a big day for India here and Australia with the prime minister as well, so for us we will get the formalities out of the way and then when that’s done, it’s about focusing on our game. Simple as that,” added Smith.
“We love playing in front of plenty of people and if the 100,000-plus turn up tomorrow it will be pretty loud and pretty special for everyone to witness.”
Meanwhile, Rohit Sharma on Wednesday angrily dismissed suggestions his India side had become overconfident, calling the criticism from former head coach Ravi Shastri “absolutely rubbish.”
India will look to clinch the series against Australia with victory in the fourth Test starting on Thursday in Ahmedabad and book their berth in the World Test Championship final.
The hosts took a 2-0 lead in the four-match series to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy before losing the third Test in Indore in just over two days.
Shastri accused the team of “a little complacency, a little bit of overconfidence”.
Skipper Rohit hit back, saying: “Honestly, when you win two games and people on the outside feel that we are overconfident, it’s absolutely rubbish, because you want to do your best in all four games.”
He called his side “ruthless” more than arrogant.
“Ravi himself has been in this dressing room, he knows what sort of mindset we have,” said Rohit.
India lost the previous match by nine wickets on a viciously turning pitch at Indore, but the track at the world’s biggest cricket stadium is expected to give the batsmen some respite.
Rohit though has had enough of the talk about pitches.
“How challenging the pitches are? How much is it turning? How much is it seaming? We are trying to keep all of that away,” said Rohit.