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Dale Steyn’s gift catalyst for true wicket in India vs Australia Dharamsala Test

Sunil Chauhan, the curator at the HPCA stadium in Dharamasala, has promised a true wicket for the deciding Test between India vs Australia

cricket Updated: Mar 23, 2017 15:56 IST
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Sunil Chauhan is the curator of the HPCA Stadium pitch that host the India vs Australia Dharamsala Test.
Sunil Chauhan is the curator of the HPCA Stadium pitch that host the India vs Australia Dharamsala Test.(HT Photo)

With the series between India and Australia tied 1-1, the fourth and final Test in Dharamsala assumes massive importance. All eyes will be on what the HPCA stadium pitch will dish out. Sunil Chauhan, the chief curator, has stated that the pitch will be a true Test match wicket where fast bowlers and aggressive batsmen will prosper.

“The pace bowlers will enjoy bowling on this wicket while batsmen who play the cut and pull shot will also get value for their shots,” Chauhan stated.

Chauhan’s desire to make a ‘true’ wicket in Dharamsala, the 27th Test venue in India, has a fascinating story. It all started with a gift from South Africa’s ace fast bowler, Dale Steyn.

Read | In cool Dharamsala, Cheteshwar Pujara reveals what helps him score big runs

‘Would have been a great fast bowler’

In 2007/08, the South Africa A team had toured India for two unofficial Tests and one-dayers. The South Africa A squad consisted of international stars like Steyn, Hashim Amla, Charl Langeveldt, Ashwell Prince, Alviro Petersen.

During the second encounter in Dharamasala, India A made 264/4 in 70 overs. The action on the pitch thrilled Steyn to such an extent that the pacer gifted his entire kit and an autographed cap to Chauhan.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, Chauhan recalled that incident. “Ishant Sharma, playing for India A, was getting most balls to go over the shoulder. Before this match, they were playing in Delhi where the bounce was not even knee high. Steyn did not expect that such a pitch could be made in India. He said that if he had gotten one hour to bowl on this pitch, he would have become a great fast bowler,” he said.

Chauhan still sports the cap gifted by Steyn. Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, AB de Villiers, Sunil Gavaskar, Richie Richardson have added their names to the hat.

Definition of a true wicket

The pitches have been in focus in the India vs Australia series. The Pune wicket was rated poor. The Bangalore wicket was rated below average. The Ranchi Test went the whole distance.

Chauhan has a clear idea of what constitutes a true pitch. “First two hours should provide assistance to the fast bowlers. As time progresses and the sun is out, then it should be good for the batsmen when it comes to strokeplay. After three days, the spinners should come into the game. On the fourth day, when the cracks start to widen, both pace bowlers and spinners will find assistance,” he said.

In the 2016/17 Ranji season, three matches were played in Dharamsala out of which two yielded results and one was drawn. In the Bengal vs Railways game, Ashoke Dinda picked up 10 wickets while in the Madhya Pradesh vs Baroda game, Ishwar Pandey picked up seven wickets. Ahead of the fourth Test, one hopes that the true wicket provides a true contest.