Called as such because of its oval shape, this maidan opposite the lovely Gothic sweep of the High Court, University and the Sessions Court, is the lung of the business district of Mumbai. In the British era it was the end of a nine-hole golf course of the Bombay Gymkhana. It extended from the Cross at the Metro end of the Cross maidan to Cooperage. In time, after the golf ended the maidan was spilt into two with the Nariman Road passing through. It became a public ground. Cricket plots then came up as Mumbai cricket got organised and they bred the who's who of the sport; Vinoo Mankad, Dattu Phadkar, Madhav Mantri. Corporates like Century Rayon, Customs, Sachivalaya Gymkhana, colleges like Sydenham, and the Institute of Science, had their practice nets here. Football was also played. A couple of decades ago, as the ground was neglected and turned into wasteland, the Oval Residents’ Association took a hand. Dilip Vengsarkar's Elf academy sprung up there making the northern tip very attractive. The local residents association have made a walking track round the maidan and the Oval once again fulfils a great role for the people of a city bursting at its seams.


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