First look of a virgin Eden Gardens pitch should have made New Zealand smile. But they didn’t train on Wednesday.
Virat Kohli did a recce of the pitch for some time before returning to nets. India coach Anil Kumble, however, was seen in deep discussion with former mate and Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president Sourav Ganguly and chief curator Sujan Mukherjee.
Wearing a green and damp look, the pitch looked far from what Eden Gardens has offered in recent years. The grass will be pruned for sure but the dampness might not go away given the ground hasn’t got enough sun in the last 48 hours.
This isn’t perfect time for cricket anyway, with Pujas hardly a week away and monsoon still lingering in the background. The pitch, re-laid over the last two months, also has never been used. And that only makes the conditions more mysterious for the India team. No one, including Ganguly, is sure whether the pitch will aid spin but Kumble sounded more worried about rain than the pitch.
“It’s early in the season. There’s been a lot of rain. Hope rain doesn’t play spoilsport during the Test,” he said. “It will be a good wicket. I have already spoken that we have the squad to encounter any challenge and adapt to whatever conditions we get. We are not really worried too much about the pitch. We have all our bases covered,” he said.
As a home team, that’s a marked departure from the stance during MS Dhoni’s captaincy that turning wickets should be dished out in every Test. In fact, that was the main reason behind the tiff between then chief curator Prabir Mukherjee and Dhoni before the England Test here in 2012. A well-stocked squad gives Kumble the confidence to get results on any surface.
Having played five bowlers in the past, Kohli won’t mind trying that combination if the situation calls for it. But with Mohammed Shami showing good form in the Kanpur Test, Kohli might be tempted to stick to four bowlers. The pitch might change its look in the final hour Friday morning but India, for once, should not be perturbed if it doesn’t.