The wickets in the ongoing Asia Cup have dominated conversations through the course of the tournament. The greenish tracks left most teams stumped. Bangladesh is known for its slow wickets that offer help to spin. The tilt towards pacers was unexpected, especially in a Twenty20 event.
In the lead up to the World T20, such wickets, usually unseen in the subcontinent, led to a tournament seen more as a preparatory series before the marquee event turn into a test of adaptability rather than a platform to sharpen skills.
The one team, though, that flourished in the conditions was the home team Bangladesh. Packed with pacers, they made the most of the conditions and countered the visiting India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and UAE, who had to spend considerable time adjusting and re-tweaking combinations.
Pakistan were the only other team to have more pacers in the ranks. However, a lack of application meant their progress was stunted.
Incidentally, Bangladesh head straight to Dharamsala following the Asia Cup. There they will play all of their qualifying games. Traditionally, Dharamsala is known for its bouncy and fast wicket. According to a senior official in the Bangladesh Cricket Board, the idea was to help the pacers in the side prepare themselves ahead of the crucial qualifying rounds.
“We play our first game, March 9, just three days after the final. We knew there would hardly be any time to test our players, and so the thought was to prepare tracks that would help the bowlers,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
However, after the widespread criticism, even from within the BCB, the wickets in the latter part of the tournament looked to have had the green cover removed.
Bangladesh in the past year have changed their focus from spin to pace. Under coach Chandika Hathurusingha and bowling coach Heath Streak, the focus has been on grooming young pace bowlers.
As such, Bangladesh hold a clear advantage when they land in Dharamsala. While, the tracks have invariably helped Bangladesh find their feet before the World T20, for teams like India, who depend on their spinners heavily, the conditions have proved a hurdle in their preparations.
The likes of Ravichandran Ashwin, who was man-of-the-series during India’s series against Sri Lanka at home, have been left to play second fiddle through the Asia Cup.
The lack of spin has also dented preparations for the batsmen, who instead of facing all types of bowlers have had to focus on their mental faculties in combating pacers and the lateral movement off the wicket at the Shere Bangla stadium in the past fortnight.
India will now hope to make the most of its two warm-up ties before they take on the formidable New Zealand side in their opening tie in Nagpur on March 15.