When a guest comes to your home and complains about the bed you’ve made for him, it’s bound to leave you smarting. And it’s no surprise that Anil Kumble’s comments on the pitch at the Ferozeshah Kotla have triggered off a strong reaction from the men who tend to the surface.
The curators are up in arms, but fortunately, even they stopped short of suggesting that Kumble, who has always held affection and warmth for the Kotla, was only complaining because his team lost.
The sensitivity to criticism is understandable, given the recent abandonment of an ODI against Sri Lanka and the following censure from the International Cricket Council (ICC).
But the fact remains that the surface at Delhi was slow and low, affording some purchase to the spinners, and hardly the ideal track for T20 cricket, let alone any other form.
Even Daredevils’ skipper Gautam Gambhir admitted that the conditions made the toss crucial and that his team had a distinct advantage as their players had grown accustomed to the surface.
There’s nothing wrong with home advantage, and when it comes in the form of the M Chinnaswamy Stadium wicket in Bangalore, the fans are also in for a treat. True and firm, with just enough extra bounce to keep the quick bowlers interested and offer batsmen value for strokes played, the pitch has easily been the best of the tournament.
The surface should automatically pave the way for the return of Dale Steyn, who has seldom flagged below 150 kmh when sending down his opening spells.
Steyn’s return would necessitate a juggling of the team, and with Kevin Pietersen and Ross Taylor being such crucial cogs in the middle order, one of Jacques Kallis or Cameron White could miss out. Despite his early successes, Kallis has failed to lift the tempo of his game, and this might force a re-think in strategy.
Left-arm spinner KP Appanna, who acquitted himself well in the last game, and medium-pacer Abhimanyu Mithun, will both give way, allowing opener Manish Pandey and seamer Praveen Kumar to return.
But Adam Gilchrist and the Deccan Chargers do not have the time or energy to worry about the Bangalore team’s composition.
The Chargers come into Thursday’s match on the back of five straight losses, and need to win their remaining five to make it to the semifinals. They may not manage this, but they’re still in with a shout of ruining Bangalore’s party.