Home advantage? The Sourav Ganguly hand in Eden Gardens’ blazing deck
The swing-friendly pitch seen on the opening day of the India vs Sri Lanka 1st Test in Kolkata seems to hint at a trend -- no batsmen would be able to breathe easy while Sourav Ganguly is the president of Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB)india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Nov 16, 2017 20:36 IST
In the era of neutered Indian pitches which typically leave pacers disgruntled and batsmen upbeat, only few strips can tick the boxes required to call it ‘sporting’. Eden Gardens is one of them. Give the pitch an overcast sky and moisture created due to staying under covers for hours and it can make the ball talk. Suranga Lakmal did just that. (IND vs SL, Kolkata Test, Day 1 Highlights)
While Lakmal’s exploits might have caught India off guard, the one person who could have predicted India’s early wobble apart from Eden Gardens curator Sujan Mukherjee has to be Sourav Ganguly. In what is slowly starting to look like a trend, no batsman can breathe easy on an Eden Gardens pitch while Ganguly is president of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB). (IND vs SL, Kolkata Test, Day 1 Scorecard)
Ask Shikhar Dhawan, who played away from his body on Thursday. Last time he took stance at Eden Gardens in a Test, against New Zealand in September, 2016, he was surprised by a delivery that suddenly took off the pitch to almost crack his thumb.
Even home boy Wriddhiman Saha wasn’t allowed to be at ease with deliveries flying past his head last year. Virat Kohli had bravely labeled the pitch as a ‘brilliant Test wicket’ after India secured a series win. This time though, Kohli may reserve his opinion till the rubber ends at Kotla.
Ganguly, meanwhile, could allow himself a chuckle or two. Since retirement, Ganguly has consistently pitched for rules that allow pacers to wield more influence. Home advantage isn’t Ganguly’s favourite word. And though his ‘neutral venue’ experiment was junked after just one season in the Ranji Trophy, there is one ground where his word still means the last.
So buckle your seats for what could be a fascinating test between bat and ball. If the last year’s Test --- 15 lbws, 300 crossed just once, Bhuvneshwar Kumar scalping 5/48 and several batsmen getting bodily hit --- is any yardstick, seamers could find their feet here again. Two-paced nature of the pitch will lead to variable bounce in some time. And that means batsmen have to be alert against even the most innocuous bowler. In short, no run will come easy.
Suddenly, in what was billed as a boring Test series, Eden Gardens has added perspective for Indian batsmen in just 11.5 overs. India are still favourites to win the series. But the struggle here could prepare them for the fight in South Africa in January. Given the tours lined up next year, India would have only Sourav Ganguly to thank if they leave Eden with something apart from a predictable win.