'Always in our hearts': India rocked by sad news ahead of Australia clash

India's cricket bosses led nationwide tributes Thursday following the death of the country's wheelchair-bound ‘superfan’ Charulata Patel at the age of 87.

The grandmother shot to attention after being spotted in the crowd watching India play Bangladesh at last year's World Cup in England, enthusiastically blowing a vuvuzela and with the Indian tricolour painted on her cheeks.

'FASCINATING': Kevin Pietersen photo sends cricket world into frenzy

‘WHAT IS GOING ON’: Disbelief over 'embarrassing' Big Bash farce

After the match -- which India won -- captain Virat Kohli and deputy captain Rohit Sharma sought out Patel and asked for her blessings for the rest of their campaign.

She later featured in a Pepsi advert cheering on the Indian team for the tournament.

Indian cricket superfan Charulata Patel, pictured with India's captain Virat Kohli, has died, aged 87. Picture: Twitter/@RCBTweets

Kohli said that she was "one of the most passionate and dedicated fans I've ever seen".

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) paid tribute on Twitter after Patel's family announced her death.

"#TeamIndia's Superfan Charulata Patel-ji will always remain in our hearts and her passion for the game will keep motivating us. May her soul rest in peace," said the BCCI.

The family said on Patel's official Instagram account, cricket.daadi (grandmother), that she died on Monday.

They thanked Kohli for making her a social media sensation last year, saying "she loved the attention."

Meeting Kohli and Sharma had been "the best day of her life," they added. "She told us this on multiple occasions."

India's bizarre pitch preparation for Australia clash

Australia are bracing for a high-scoring date with India at one of cricket's most unique venues in Rajkot's Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium.

The Aussies arrived to Rajkot's new venue for the first time on Thursday to the sight of four elderly women scrubbing the pitch with hard brushes.

The practice is believed to be used to remove grass clippings before the pitch is again mowed to ensure it will be rock-hard for Friday's second ODI.

Such acts are commonplace across some Asian grounds but it's outside the boundary where those similarities stop at the spacious and impressive venue which was built in 2013.

Behind the practice nets where Australia trained runs a dirt road and rugged terrain, which motorbikes charged down at different times on match eve.

The solar-powered stadium's media box resembles the UFO look of Lord's and sits high over the ground.

One stand has a roof looking similar to those famous at the Adelaide Oval, while there is a hint of the WACA's light tower design.

The vast majority of the 28,000 seats are free-standing plastic chairs, similar to those you would expect at a beachside takeaway shop or domestic barbecue.

Each are laid out in rows to give the effect of a normal seating set-up, except they can easily be picked up and moved individually.