After the run-feast at Ahmedabad, thanks to the docile nature of the pitch there, it is only natural that the surface at the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur has attracted a lot of attention in the days leading to the second Test.
Being far away from the action and not having had a chance to feel the pitch myself, I cannot say too much about the present surface but having played there many times, this much I am sure of: the pitch will play slow and low.
That said, it is not as if the bowlers will have a ball from the word go. It is normally a good wicket to bat on initially and the first innings is very crucial there. How you go in the first innings usually dictates the result of the match. Over time, the wicket tends to deteriorate because of its powdery nature and can make it a little tough to bat on. But then, it never really quickens up, thus the bowlers can still be kept out. One thing is for sure, slow or not, the spinners will have a better time than they did at Ahmedabad.
Both teams must be poring over their combinations but Sri Lanka surely will look to get in Ajantha Mendis for the game. With his ability to skid the ball, Mendis can have more impact on the opposition.
With Angelo Mathews in the squad, the Lankans, should they play Mendis as a third spinner, will still have two men to operate with the new ball. I can’t remember too many occasions when a visiting side has played three spinners against the Indians.
Strangely enough, it is not so with the Indians and they must continue with their two seamers, two spinners combo. Here, I am not sure if the tall Pragyan Ojha should be preferred over Amit Mishra, but it is a call for Mahendra Singh Dhoni to take.
I do think he should be given another go and, as for the third spinner, you can always turn to Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag.
With the Test starting on the same day as the Ranji Trophy fixtures, I don’t see how any player who doesn’t make the eleven can be released in time for some invaluable match practice, like it happened to M. Vijay and Ojha before the first Test, but I would have been happy to see someone like Sreesanth being allowed to play some games instead of sitting on the sidelines.
While you may not be able to make up your mind on which of the spinners to finally play before the nth hour, that cannot be the case with the pacers.
In Kanpur, the outer limit for pacers is two and the decision could have been made early and the third pacer released for domestic cricket.
While there may be some debate about the bowlers, the batsmen, who are all in fine nick, pick themselves.
Moving from batting and bowling, close catching will play a vital role in Kanpur. The fielders will have to stay up a few paces and stay low as well for there will not be much carry off the surface and so the edges too will not travel much.