Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Neil McKenzie and Hashim Amla turned out to be the heroes in Chennai as runs flowed from their bats in the first of three Tests. However, there was one factor working against the bowlers – the pitch. The Chepauk track just did not have anything in it for any bowler throughout all the five days.
Both the skippers – Anil Kumble and Graeme Smith – criticised the pitch after the match and hoped for a balanced contest between the bat and the ball in the rest of the series. It is learnt that Smith has heavily criticised the strip in Chennai in his report to the match referee Roshan Mahanama.
As a result, as both the teams move to Ahmedabad for the second Test, the pitch at Motera remains the talking point. And the 22-yard strip in question bears a look exactly opposite to the one in Chennai.
When both the teams reach the stadium for training on Tuesday, the bowlers’ eyes, especially that of Ishant Sharma and Dale Steyn and Co., will light up at the sight of the grass at the centre.
On Monday afternoon, the pitch had a tinge of live grass on it, something which was missing in Chennai. And if Dhiraj Parsana, the curator, said the grass cover will remain even when both the captains walk out for toss on Thursday morning.
“I can assure you that it will be a sporting track,” Parsana told the Hindustan Times on Monday. “There have been no instructions to prepare a specific pitch and my job is to give a sporting track.”
Parsana, a former Test cricketer, explained the logic behind keeping the grass cover.
“There is a vast difference between the weather in Chennai and Ahmedabad,” Parsana, who is also heading the West Zone wing of the BCCI’s Pitch and Ground committee, said. “In Chennai, due to high humidity it feels too hot even when the temeperature is between 30 and 35 degree Celsius. But here in Ahmedabad the ground temperature has already passed the 45-degree mark and with the dry conditions, if we don’t keep grass on the wicket, it will crumble on the second day itself.”
With talks of Chennai curator K Parthasarathy being forced to take the nip out of the surface at the behest of Indian team management doing the rounds, it remains to be seen whether the Motera track will retain its present look till Thursday morning.