Only small cloth banners (flex banners) hanging from the top tier of the stadium on the outside gives one an indication that this stadium belongs to MI, though only temporarily.
Inside the arena, MI had to share their branding space with Rising Pune Supergiants, whose temporary home for three matches is also this port city.
MI cannot have the entire stadium to their own as following their match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, RPS play their home game on Tuesday against SRH and it is logistically not possible to have the stadium to oneself even for a match, said an Andhra Cricket Association (ACA) official.
But even in sharing the visibility space, MI could call the background colour its own as it merges with the BCCI blue colour and RPS’s branding has also been imprinted on this backdrop.
ACA had only a week or so to prepare for as many as six IPL matches to be held across 14 days. “But Visakhapatnam, with its effective ground staff, is ready to host a big game in just three days,” said the official without wanting to be named.
Except at the stadium and in the vicinity of 5km approaching the stadium, there is hardly any indication that the city is hosting IPL matches. The first sign of the IPL game is in the form of a traffic board that said, ‘Heavy Vehicles towards Vizianagaram and Srikakulam (take diversion)’ with an arrow mark.
As one approaches the stadium on National Highway 5, vendors selling MI and SRH flags and T-shirts along the roadside under the scorching heat tried their best to attract customers, indicating that it was, indeed, a match day.
Despite the heat, the first game at this venue saw a good turnout of more than 20,000 including the 3,000-odd school children from in and around Vizag in the 30,000-capacity stadium.