Former India captain Anjum Chopra has revealed that during the match against Sri Lanka in 1997 World Cup no one knew the way to Feroz Shah Kotla, however, rain saved them by delaying the play. She also added that when they reached the stadium, they were told to not tell anyone that they were late.
In the 1997 World Cup, Hero Honda World Cup, Indian Women’s Cricket lost in the semi-final to the mighty Australians in a low-scoring match, which was reduced to 32 overs due to rain. It was not only the semi-final that was affected by rain but it had a huge role to play from the start of India’s campaign as the first match against Sri Lanka was washed out. However, former India captain Anjum Chopra revealed that the Sri Lankan team could have been awarded a walkover victory in the first match itself.
Chopra stated that the team did not make it to the stadium on time because the driver who was in charge of the team bus, did not have an idea about the route from the hotel to the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium and in fact kept circling around the same location for over half an hour.
“So, we got on the bus and left for the stadium [in the morning], and we knew the play won’t start on time because it was raining. After about 10-12 minutes – I was sitting at the back – someone from the front called for the Delhi residents. And when I got to the front, I was told that the driver doesn’t know the route to Feroz Shah Kotla! I knew the way, but only from my place,” Chopra said on the YouTube show ‘22 Yarns’ with Gaurav Kapur as quoted by Hindustan Times.
“I thought I was the only most knowledgeable person because everybody else, apart from Anju Jain and I, were not from Delhi. So, I was helping the driver with the route, who was using his own ‘internal GPS’ as well. After about half an hour, we came back to Sarojini Nagar [just one-kilometre from DLTA]. We were circling around Sarojini Nagar and South Extension and after half an hour again we were back in the same place.”
Thankfully for the Indian team, the rain came to their rescue and the match got delayed. Chopra explained that during the scheduled toss time, the team was nowhere near the stadium and they had lost all hope of reaching on time. However, it was captain Pramila Bhatt along with her deputy, who saved the match by reaching the stadium right in the nick of time and avoided a walkover victory to Sri Lanka. She also added that the team was told not to tell anyone that they were late for the match. Later, the match was abandoned without a ball being bowled.
“Now the toss was scheduled for 8.30am, so the captain should at least reach the stadium. And by 8.35, we were only moving in circles. Everyone else had reached the stadium and you can actually be declared as giving a walkover, [even if it’s raining] your team management and captain need to be there on the ground,” Chopra said.
“So apparently, the captain and the vice-captain got off halfway through and took a taxi. And as it turned out, even the taxi driver didn’t know the way to Feroz Shah Kotla. I don’t know how we managed to reach the stadium but when we did, my parents, who had come to watch the game even though it was raining, were standing outside with a big smile on their face. And then the first thing we were told was, ‘Please go straight to the dressing rooms and don’t tell anyone that you have just reached’. We reached there at 9.05am.”