Tinge of grass adds spice to Ahmedabad Test

April 2nd, 2008 - 7:36 pm ICT by admin  

By Avishek Roy
Ahmedabad, April 2 (IANS) A tinge of green is enough to shroud the 22-yard strip at the Sardar Patel Stadium here with suspense, and spice up the crucial second Test between India and South Africa starting here Thursday. After the dull draw in Chennai, the wicket here holds much promise and expectations are that it will produce a result. But neither of the two captains wants to take a call on how the wicket will unfold.

It is not a perfect green-top but the even spread of grass holds enough ammunition for fast-bowlers at least in the first couple of sessions when they could exploit the moisture underneath.

However, heat is a factor that will determine the pitch behaviour as the ground temperature will be 42 degrees in the afternoon and that should dry out whatever moisture is there in quick time.

Indian skipper Anil Kumble was visibly irritated when asked about the pitch and preferred to buy his time before predicting anything.

“Enough has been said about the pitch. There are far too many questions and little answers. Lets wait for tomorrow to see how it behaves,” Kumble said Wednesday.

Wicket might also be the reasons why India have not decided on their playing eleven. Also, they would like to give a few more hours before having a final look at young Ishant Sharma’s fitness. The Delhi pacer missed the first Test with an injured finger.

India will never want to play on a track that gives South Africa a chance to maul them. The visitors certainly have the firepower to rattle the Indians with Dale Steyn, Makhaya Nitini and Morne Morkel in their ranks.

Kumble though is undeterred by the hype surrounding the track. The fact that India beat Australia on the bouncy Perth track might have boosted their confidence and there is no reason why the batsmen cannot handle the heat at home.

“Whatever be the pitch, we have the quality and depth in our ranks to do the job. We will work out a plan to get the right results,” Kumble said tersely.

In fact, the Indian skipper’s one-liners about the wicket and the team combination gave way to speculation that he is not exactly happy with the pitch preparation.

Curator Dheeraj Parsana, a former India player, said it was his duty to give a sporting track and he has done that.

“My job is to prepare good wickets which can produce results and I am hopeful that this track will not disappoint anyone”

But the big question is whether the Indian think-tank is satisfied with the pitch that, in its opinion, should turn and also have bounce to bamboozle the visitors.

“I have not been told anything by the team management, but in any case I cannot pay heed to what it says. I know the conditions and I know my job,” said Parsana.

“I have tried my best to retain moisture in the track. Because the heat is so much that it will dry out the water underneath quickly. It will help the spinners from the fourth day and that is an ideal track,” he says.

The dry heat will certainly be a cause for worry for both the teams and it will be testing time for them.

At the moment though South Africa are upbeat as they fancy their chances on this wicket.

“It looks like a good wicket. It will be an interesting to see the effect of heat and other conditions on it. Looks to be good for our plans but cannot say much,” said skipper Graeme Smith.

It is the same wicket where Kapil Dev took nine wickets in an innings in a losing cause against West Indies in 1983, the very first Test at this venue. That was an under-prepared track that did the damage. As years rolled on, the strip changed its nature from lifeless to spin-friendly as eight Tests were played. But it was re-laid two years ago and it continued to be bowler-friendly except that it is now assisting the medium-pacers more in domestic cricket.

Steyn and company might be keyed up to have a go at the Indians first up after being at the receiving end in the first match.

But nobody knows about the hidden ghosts.

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