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There’s grass, but not green

cricket Updated: Mar 28, 2011 00:36 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Hindustan Times
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The surface on which millions of eyes on either side of the Wagah border will be fixed over the next few days was under covers for a better part of Sunday.

The sheets were removed after the Pakistan team left the ground following an extended practice session. What drew immediate attention to the 22-yard strip was the amount of grass on it.

Soon after the covers were gone, came out the light roller. On either side of some gentle watering, the pitch was rolled under the blazing sun. The mower too came out, but instead of being used on the pitch, it did rounds of the playing surface and the adjoining area.

It was later learnt that grass will remain and the strip won't be dry, irrespective of whether the Indian spinners like it or not.

After arriving for practice at around 4 pm, India coach Gary Kirsten headed straight to the pitch, followed by bowling coach Eric Simons and MS Dhoni. They took a close look at it, felt the surface with their palms and had a brief chat with pitch curator Daljeet Singh.

Sources in the Punjab Cricket Association confirmed that the grass would stay. "This being the end of the season and temperature increasing, there is a risk of the pitch breaking if grass is shaved off," said the source.

"The wicket will offer carry when the ball is new, but to ensure there's less lateral movement, the pitch will be rolled and watered further. We will make sure grass isn't green enough to assist too much deviation. Having said that, the faster ones will enjoy greater advantage than the spinners," the source said.

This isn't great news for India, who have relied heavily on the spinners in the previous games with the solitary exception of Zaheer Khan.

So there is a chance of the spinners getting lesser purchase here. Pakistan too have depended a lot on the leg-spin of Shahid Afridi, but not being a great turner of the ball, the Pakistan skipper shouldn't mind what's on offer. One Umar Gul might enjoy what's there for him.