New Zealand's drop-in pitches afforded so much seam movement to give grief to Indian batsmen on the 2002 tour that skipper Sourav Ganguly is said to have remarked that the pitches made the Kiwis bowlers as unplayable as the Sultan of Swing, Richard Hadlee, himself.
The Eden Park's drop-in pitch, curator, Blair Christiansen insisted on Wednesday, will afford plenty of bounce and carry to go with the swing pacers get at the venue but not much seam movement. The hosts don’t want to play it into the hands of the Indian pacers, especially Zaheer Khan, who can be deadly in seaming conditions.
A beaming Christiansen was delighted with his maiden Test pitch at Eden Park and didn’t beat around the bush: “Pace and bounce seems to be the flavour of the month at the moment and that’s what we are aiming for. There’s no trying to deny that.”
New Zealand is where India won their first overseas Test series, and in 1976, Erapalli Prasanna and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar shared 19 wickets in a Test match. But this series has only been about pace, the home variety.
Asked whether spinners will get any help on the pitch, Christiansen, tongue firmly in cheek, said: “The spinners haven’t played a lot of role in any of our four-day games. They have tended not to turn. But there is some high-quality cricketers here that we don’t ordinarily get either, so they might be able to do something different.”
Did instructions fly from the Kiwi team management? Any discussion with other curators in New Zealand? “We have never been instructed to go down that route and I don’t think it works particularly well when some of the games rely on the toss of the coin as well.
“It’s just the best pitch and hopefully we have got somewhere close to that.”