With the qualification race hotting up and teams finding themselves in must-win situations, it is inevitable that some heat will be generated from time to time, as has happened with the pitch in Jaipur.
The Rajasthan Royals have generally had an excellent run in their backyard, feeding off their understanding of the surface and the fact that they have worked out a way of exploiting the slow pitch. On Monday, against the Chennai Super Kings, they were found wanting on a beautiful batting track, which wasn't anything like the usual Jaipur surface.
WHO TAKES THE CALL?
In Twenty20 cricket, a square turner is definitely not acceptable. You generally look for a surface where a total of between 160 and 180 is possible, because this format is more about entertainment and less about attrition.
The big question is, whether the franchise can prepare a pitch to suit the strengths of its players, as is the norm in international cricket, or whether the owner of the tournament takes the final call? Unlike in most other competitions, there are three stakeholders in the IPL — the host association, the franchise and the IPL.
So, who is the real stakeholder when it comes to the pitch?
INVOLVE EVENT OWNER
In my opinion, those that run the IPL should have the final say because then, it will ensure that the conditions are neutral for everyone. Speaking from our experience in Bangalore, given that we had two warm-up games before the World Cup and five full-fledged matches during the tournament, what it means is that in the space of some two-and-a-half months, the Chinnaswamy Stadium will have hosted 14 high-profile matches.
PITCHES NEED REST
That's a tough ask, because inevitably, the pitches too need rest. You can generally approach a situation like this by using three pitches for the 14 matches. But, even then, it is difficult to maintain all three pitches during the two-and-a-half-month period. It requires high expertise and understanding of the art of making and maintaining pitches.
Additionally, there are also logistical factors involved. You have to cater to television camera positions, and sometimes, when you move pitches, you lose valuable seats that are near the sightscreen.
ORDER OF PRIORITY
To me, the order of priority should be a good wicket from a cricketing perspective, followed by the players' seating and then commercial considerations such as TV cameras and the loss of prime seats. The losing team will always have a thing or two to say about the pitch, but I feel that is a spur-of-the-moment reaction.