In the first two Tests of the ongoing Test series between India and South Africa, we have seen a triple century, a double ton, some fierce pace bowling by the visiting team and a team being bowled out in the first session of a Test match.
Despite such eventful happenings on the field, the real newsmakers in the series so far have been the curators.
While Kannan Parthasarathy was criticised for giving a super flat track in Chennai, Dhiraj Parsana came under the scanner for leaving live grass on the wicket for the second Test at Ahmedabad.
And with the third and decisive Test starting in Kanpur on Friday, Green Park curator Shiv Kumar will be under the spotlight and could be in the line of fire if the pitch is not to the liking of the hosts. Kumar, however, has an able ally in Daljit Singh, the head of the Indian cricket board's pitch and grounds committee.
Singh has been stationed here since Monday. Does Singh’s presence means he was asked to inspect the preparation of the Kanpur wicket, especially after the Ahmedabad fiasco, where Parsana apparently did not accede to the Indian team management's demands?
“Nothing like that,” Singh clarified on Tuesday evening. “Since the zonal head for the region, Kishore Pradhan is unwell, I am here to inspect the preparation of the wicket.”
With India battling to save the series, and the bowling department besieged with injuries, it wasn’t surprising to see that there no similarity between the Green Park strip and the one at the Motera last week.
“It will be a sporting track,” was all Singh said when asked about the nature of the wicket.
Kumar also chose his words carefully. “It is an ideal wicket for a Test match,” he said. “But it will not be like the one we had for the last Test match here. This wicket will produce a result.”
The last Test played here, between the same two teams, was a dull draw, which saw 23 wickets for the 1,145 runs scored.
But the conditions in Kanpur are pretty similar to those in Ahmedabad. Kanpur will be as hot as, if not hotter, Ahmedabad. Parsana claimed he left the grass cover “to bind the wicket”. Since the Green Park wicket does not have ‘live’ grass, it is set to crumble. It will just be a question of when rather than whether.
“Latest on the third day,” said a source. “The spinners are going to play a big role as the game progresses.”
This could certainly favour India provided the batsmen come good in the first innings. It will be interesting to see whether they will be able to win the match and save the series at a venue where they haven’t lost any of their 19 Tests.