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It's still the wrong one

Even after crores being spent, the Feorzshah Kotla strip needs to be re-laid. Shalabh Manocha reports.

cricket Updated: Jun 15, 2011 01:07 IST
Shalabh Manocha

About two years and around Rs 1.5 crore can fix a lot of problems, but have proved inadequate to improve the wicket at the Ferozshah Kotla Stadium.

Far from being anywhere close to the required standards, the pitch appears heading back to square one, what with Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) curator terming it unfit to hold first-class matches.

"The centre wickets are still not good enough to host first-class matches. We need to dig them up and relay afresh," said Radhey Shyam, the curator. If that happens, the entire effort and money spent on the wickets so far will go down the drain.

As per the income and expenditure account statement of the DDCA, the association spent Rs 13,53,018 for ground renovation in the financial year 2009, and the amount under the same head soared to Rs 80,77,774 in 2010. In 2011, the association has so far shelled out Rs 49 lakh. Yet, the wickets will need to be dug up again.

The curator can't see any logic behind such a splurge. "I can't figure out why such a huge amount was spent. That was not necessary I think. And even after spending so much, we still don't have good wickets," he said.

The problem started after the DDCA dug up wickets in the summer of 2009. The wicket came in for sharp criticism for it low bounce and slow nature during the Champions League in 2009 - the first tournament on the re-laid wickets. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/15_06_pg19b.jpg

Two months later, in December, the venue was banned by the ICC for one year after the wicket was declared 'unfit for play' during an India-Sri Lanka one-dayer. While the wickets looked just about okay during the World Cup, though it still drew some flak for being low and slow, the IPL again brought forth the inadequacies in the centre wickets. The DDCA had to host the matches on the corner wickets, which left the boundary on one side smaller than prescribed limits.

International and first-class matches, however, can't be played on corner wickets, with boundaries pulled in. "The centre wickets could crumble if used for four-day matches," said Radhey Shyam.

Except for the DDCA curator, not many are willing to speak on the issue. Venkat Sundaram, the BCCI's Pitch and Grounds Committee chairman, remained tightlipped. "Ask me anything but about the Kotla wicket," he said.

But with the wicket being what it is even after so much time and money have gone into it, questions are bound to come up. And someone will need to answer them.