ALL THE three selectors present - Yashpal Sharma, Narendra Hirwani and Surendra Bhave - were quick to reach the pitch at the VCA Stadium in Jamtha soon after the first day's play ended. They appeared 'concerned' with the behaviour of the pitch and even spent half-an-hour talking to curator Praveen Hingnikar. All this happened in view of BCCI president Shashank Manohar, secretary N Srinivasan and former secretary Niranjan Shah.
Interestingly, in April last year Shah had announced that every association would be directed to prepare fast and lively wickets for domestic tournaments. And one of the reasons for holding knockout matches on neutral venues this season was to avoid home advantage and provide a competitive environment to the teams playing.
"It's a slow wicket and bowlers have to do a lot to get 20 wickets in the match," was the straight comment from centurion Abhinav Mukund. "Undoubtedly, we have bowlers to take 20 wickets, but I don't see an outright result here," said Mukund. "It's a great season for me. I am batting well and getting good support from M Vijay. He (Vijay) is a stroke player, but today he played second fiddle to me," said Mukund.
No-one from the Uttar Pradesh team was willing to speak about the pitch, but the frustration of not getting more wickets was writ large on the faces of UP's bowlers.
"It's a death knell for the bowlers and such wickets in domestic tournaments aren't going to help our bowlers to reach international standard," said a BCCI official on condition of anonymity. "It's a spongy pitch where the ball comes late after pitching and moreover it's the first-ever domestic match on this new pitch."