The spotlight will be back on the Ferozeshah Kotla pitch when Delhi meet Bengal in a Ranji Trophy match from Monday. It's going to be the first first-class match at this venue after Kotla got a 12-month ban in the wake of an India-Sri Lanka ODI being abandoned due to 'unfit' conditions last December.
With the World Cup three months away, and the wicket still needing work before measuring up to international requirements (ICC pitch expert Andy Atkinson gave Kotla a red code, worst possible ranking, before turning it to blue on his last visit), the match acquires a lot of importance. Should anything go wrong, there will be little time for remedial measures.
"It's going to be a test of the wicket as well. How it behaves during this match will show how much it has improved, and how fit it's now to hold an international match," said Delhi captain Virat Kohli.
Venkat Sundram, chairman of the BCCI Pitches and Grounds Committee, sounded optimistic. "Let's not talk about the past. It's dead and gone. We have worked really hard on the wicket and I am sure it's going to be fine," said Sundram, who has worked on getting the surface back in shape.
"We have had some U-22 matches here and they have been good. So, we are not worried at all. The pitch may be a bit slow initially, but it will get better with every game."
It's been learnt that Atkinson is scheduled to revisit Kotla during one of the Ranji Trophy matches to assess how much work remains to be done before the venue gets an all clear for the World Cup. That will surely keep everyone concerned on his toe. Players, however, didn't sound too enthusiastic. "It seems it's going to be the same old low and slow track even after so much hullabaloo," said a Delhi player.