The pitch for the ICC Champions Trophy final at the Brabourne stadium on November 5 is not the one in the centre but the one adjacent to it. It is the same track that had crumbled during the infamous South Africa-New Zealand match on October 16. But now, more than two weeks later, the wicket is in better shape.
“We have had 15 days to prepare the pitch from the last match (New Zealand vs Sri Lanka on October 21) to the final,” Suru Nayak, the former India Test player and Cricket In-Charge at the Cricket Club of India (CCI), told the Hindustan Times on Thursday. “It's coming up well. We have grown grass on the surface, watered it and rolled it regularly. We expect it to hold firm for 100 overs.”
The preparation of the pitch and the outfield is being supervised by Andy Atkinson, the International Cricket Council (ICC) Pitch Consultant.
Atkinson answered the ICC's SOS call after the South Africa-New Zealand game with Poly-Vinyl Acetate (PVA), an industrial adhesive, which helped hold the pitch maintain uniformity through the 100 overs. It was first used during the Australia-West Indies match (October 18) and the New Zealand-Lanka game two days later.
However, no glue will be used for the final. Nayak said that the PVA was only a temporary arrangement.
Nayak praised Atkinson's methods.
“He is at the ground morning till evening, ensuring that every detail is attended to,” he said. “He was not well on Wednesday but today, he is back on the ground. We have to respect him for his experience and knowledge.”
Nayak said it was Atkinson's decision to play the final on the pitch, which according to South African coach Mickey Arthur had “behaved differently in the second innings”. Nayak said, “There is more grass on that pitch and Atkinson believes that it will hold firm. The centre pitch on the other hand is devoid of grass and Atkinson felt that it might break during the match.”
Asked if there was any scope for the finalists to complain at the end of the final, Nayak said: “No. We are trying our best to give a good pitch. If there is anyone who can prepare a perfect pitch, I'd like to meet him.”
Ticket sales picking up
Along with the pitch, the empty stands at the Brabourne Stadium had triggered debate. But according to NS Jani, financial controller and chief accountant of the Cricket Club of India (CCI), ticket sales for the final were picking up.
“The ticket sales are picking up gradually,” Jani told HT on Thursday. “The VIP Stand, worth Rs 10,000 per ticket, has been sold out. The West Stand (Rs 8,000 per ticket) is almost 80 per cent sold out. Same is the case with the North Stand. And where the East Stand is concerned, more than 50% of the tickets have been sold.”
With Australia featuring in the final, Jani expects more takers. “The tendency of the people is to wait till the day of the match before buying a ticket,” Jani said.
On the whole, he expects a 50-60 % attendance on Sunday.
That is not befitting a Champions Trophy final. However, the host club is keeping its fingers crossed. One stand that is expected to be packed, though, is the members’ stand. It will comprise dignitaries and ICC top brass besides Indian cricket board members members and their invitees.