Last winter, the Indian cricket board faced criticism for laying under-prepared pitches for the series against South Africa. India -cashed in on the ‘home advantage’ with three Tests ending before the fifth day. India won that four-match series 3-0.
But this time India are unlikely to get such controversial, spinner-friendly tracks for the series against New Zealand, starting in Kanpur on September 22.
It appears it is more due to accident than design. As the monsoon was delayed in the north and east India with the region not receiving enough sunshine, the challenging conditions are testing curators and are waiting for teams also.
“Test matches in September and Novembers are going to be a challenge for everybody,” Daljeet Singh, chairman of BCCI’s ground and pitches committee told HT. “You are not going to get the kind of pitches you have in mind. If you want to play at home and are looking for home advantage, it’s very difficult to expect that in September. It is challenging for everyone.”
The 15-member New Zealand team arrive in India on Tuesday and play a three-day warm up tie in New Delhi from Friday. The Tests will be played in Kanpur, Kolkata and Indore. The Kanpur game from September 22 will be India’s 500th Test.
The North has received heavy delayed rainfall and that has affected pitch preparations. Kanpur has always been a good hunting ground for Indian spinners but the changing weather pattern will pose a challenge to the groundsmen to prepare a turning track.
“Late rain and lack of sunshine is the challenge for us. Such conditions mean you can’t roll or cover the pitches as you want. For example, the Eden Gardens outfield is silt clay, not sand-based, which is very difficult to maintain during rain,” explained Daljeet.
If this assessment proves accurate, India may have to work extra hard to force victory in the series. In the last 10 years, India have played 39 matches at home with 13 drawn, of which 11 were played during October and November.
India have hosted New Zealand for a Test series during October-November eight times in the last 20 years. India have won only two series while New Zealand have managed to draw six.