In a sensational disclosure, a Bengali daily on Saturday claimed that the Indian team sent Sachin Tendulkar with a request to Eden Gardens curator Prabir Mukherjee that he should shave the grass off the pitch for the second cricket Test between India and South Africa, starting Sunday, but it was politely turned down.
The veteran curator, however, categorically denied meeting Tendulkar.
Mukherjee has been hogging the limelight over the last few days with a section of the media abuzz with reports that he had refused to entertain requests from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for preparing a turner to suit Indian spinners.
When contacted by IANS, Mukherjee flatly denied having any conversation with Tendulkar. "I am not that big a person that Sachin will speak to me."
Mukherjee, known to be a stickler, had angry exchanges with former selection committee chief Dilip Vengsarkar on issues concerning the wicket.
On Friday, he asked two policemen to move away from the square as he feared they may stroll on to the Test pitch.
India are trailing 1-0 in the two-Test series and are in a must-win situation not only to save the series but to retain their number one slot in world Test rankings.
Interestingly, India were in the same situation two years ago when South Africans outplayed them in Ahmedabad, and won the second Test at Kanpur on a rank turner to level the series. The South Africans raised a stink over the pitch and lodged a protest with International Cricket Council (ICC).
Bengal daily Aajkaal reported that Tendulkar approached Mukherjee with the request Friday only to be told by the octogenearian: "You are Sachin Tendulkar and the quality of your batting will not be affected whether there is grass on the wicket or not."
Tendulkar then replied that he had come to speak to him on behalf of the team management. "It will be better if the grass is removed".
However, Mukherjee reportedly told Tendulkar to focus on practice and tell his teammates that they should not worry so much about the grass.
India's traditional strength lies in spin bowling, while South Africa are relying on their pacers Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. In fact, Steyn's 10-wicket haul was largely responsible for India's innings defeat in the first Test at Nagpur.