Bowlers are usually the breed of cricketers who seem worried before one-day games in India. The pitch at Ferozeshah Kotla for Saturday's third ODI has forced a change in the scenario. With the recent Champions League T20 games being played on a square that hardly assisted bounce and encouraged spinners instead, batsmen of India and Australia were getting ready for a tough time.
The curator was trying his best to sound reassuring, saying that a lot has changed since the first semifinal of the T20 gala on October 21, but the fact that there were just two totals above 150 in eight matches played at the venue left the teams sceptical.
Ricky Ponting was more forthcoming in admitting this, saying repeatedly that spinners would play a role in breaking the deadlock of 1-1 the series is currently in.
“I think the pitch will be low and slow as it was in the Champions League, pretty hard for the batsmen to score. Jon Holland in the squad gives us the option of playing two spinners but we'll have to think hard about the right balance on that surface. It's different from most one-day wickets, hard to score. The team that adapts best is going to win,” the Australia captain said, not writing off the quicker ones.
“With big turn on offer, the margin for error for spinners is going to be very less. But if the fast bowlers bowl well they will be the hardest ones to score off. We haven't decided on the combination yet.
“A few of our players played on that surface in the Champions League and their inputs might come in handy. We'll finalise things after a round of discussion in the afternoon,” he said after the morning training session.
Curator Vijay Bahadur Mishra was confident the strip would be more generous to batsmen this time around. “The pitch was re-laid earlier this year and unseasonal rains have hampered our preparations. What we've tried is to make the upper part of the surface hard by watering and rolling it after the semifinal game. I expect it to stay good and firm for 100 overs.”
The curator was quick to add that batsmen should try and play square off the wicket at their own risk.
“It's not advisable, especially against spinners. They should try and play as straight as possible. With the ball turning, shots like the square-cut or the flick would mean inviting a lot of risk. It would definitely be better than what it was during the T20 competition, but still, those shots are not advisable.”
Run feast is what Indian spectators are accustomed to when it comes to ODIs. The other variety, namely low-scoring games, also have their own charm.
Maybe the sell-out Saturday crowd will get a taste of it. Contrary to imagination in the days of T20, but that's how it goes sometimes.