Ranchi’s bald sand-based outfield a cause of concern

  • Kushal Phatarpekar, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Feb 11, 2016 15:33 IST
Harbhajan Singh, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina see the bright side as fans jouster to take pictures upon their arrival at the airport in Ranchi, Jharkhand, on Wednesday. (PTI Photo)

As Team India arrives in Ranchi, comments are still being passed on the green cover on the wicket at Pune and the hosts’ lack of application in fending off the challenges posed by a lively pitch.

The green has changed to brown as cricket travels east to Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s backyard. In Ranchi the talk is about the lack of green on the outfield. The Jharkhand State Cricket Association’s (JSCA) ground looked under-prepared with bald patches visible all over the outfield on Wednesday, two days ahead of the second T20I between India and Sri Lanka.

The sand-based outfield looks set to create a lot of problems for fielders. With the two teams set to practice on Thursday, the chances of the field being of international quality look bleak.

When the second T20I was moved out of Delhi, owing to the muddle surrounding the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA), the shift was seen as a perfect setting for Dhoni, who many believe could hang up his boots at the end of the World T20.

JSCA secretary Rajesh Verma has cited the lack of time given to the association to have the ground ready enough to host an international game.

“We were informed about the match being transferred on January 31. At the time, the stadium was playing host to the inter-zonal women’s cricket tournament. We could not just shift the games to another venue,” said Verma.

“Once the tournament concluded and we began preparations. The wicket has been prepared well. There is no cause for worry there,” added Verma.

Verma clarified that the association was not approached by the BCCI with regards to the preparations of the wicket, following the low-scoring opening game of the three match series.

Following Tuesday’s match, the scrutiny around the wicket is likely to be the talking point in the lead up to the second game. Dhoni had spent a long time, ahead of the practice session in Pune analysing the wicket. When the team arrives for their training session on Thursday, a similar scrutiny cannot be ruled out.

The JSCA stadium has traditionally provided slow-turners that have invariably helped India’s style of play. Friday’s game is a must-win for India as they look to level the three-match series.

The association has also ruled out any talk of Dhoni’s retirement or any plans for a function to felicitate the local boy. “We do not want to be presumptuous. He is still playing and leading the side. His intentions are to keep playing. We do not want to get ahead of ourselves. Whenever he does announce his retirement, we will arrange for all necessary functions,” Verma said.

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