"When you play in the semifinals of such a premier tournament like the Ranji Trophy, you want it to be played on a much better surface, not one that makes it into a lottery. The mud was flying from where the balls were pitching," said Robin Uthappa at the end of first day of the Ranji semifinal.
While one could understand Vadodara's preference to play on an under-prepared track (Karnataka was a much stronger opposition), it would be impossible to not feel for the Karnataka boys, whose dreams of making it to the second consecutive final were dashed in just over five sessions of play.
But, there's a larger issue here. Karnataka lodged an official complaint, which meant shifting the venue for the finals in Baroda to the Moti Bagh Ground, and also of course preparing a slightly better wicket. I say a better wicket because it lasted five days; otherwise the track was so low and slow that it made for boring cricket. And that brings me to the perennial question that's haunting domestic cricket. Is preparing a good pitch, which has something in it for everybody, so difficult?
Every season we witness at least a few matches finishing under two days. The tracks are either like the one provided for the semifinals, a rank turner or have far too much grass left on it. While both these tracks produce the much-needed result, it has a damaging effect on the health of the game.
If under-prepared tracks are misleading, the tracks, as good as roads, are equally flattering, as batsmen, in this case, make merry. What's worst is that it's not the nature of the track but the intent, which is at fault on most occasions.