India skipper MS Dhoni's demand for a rank turner is unlikely to be granted at the Eden Gardens, venue for the third Test against England. While the nature of this wicket is far removed from that of Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium, where the extra zip and bounce extracted by England spinners spelt the doom for India, the pitch was also watered on Wednesday.
A dry pitch crumbles faster. While much can change with six days left for the Test starting on December 5, the local cricket authorities are confident the match will last its full duration, unlike the Mumbai contest that ended in less than four days.
It was business as usual at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday with its 83-year-old curator, Probir Mukherjee, showing he was still very much in charge of preparing the pitch.
With Mukherjee at the helm, it is unlikely that Dhoni will get a replica of the Mumbai pitch here. "Of course, we will keep the home advantage factor in mind. But at the same time it would be a sporting wicket that would last for five days," CAB's joint secretary, Sujan Mukherjee, was quoted by PTI as saying.
Who's the curator?
After Dhoni's call for turning tracks, before the series began and after the 10-wicket rout in the Mumbai Test, all eyes are rivetted on the famous Kolkata wicket. The interest heightened after Mukherjee's statement that he would stick to his routine rather than follow any diktat, and zoomed on Wednesday after reports that the cricket board's designated curator for East Zone has been rushed to Kolkata.
However, till Wednesday evening, Ashish Bhowmick, zonal representative of BCCI's ground and pitches committee, wasn't seen at the Eden Gardens. He has reportedly been asked by the BCCI to work with Mukherjee, leading to speculation that the board is trying to ensure Dhoni gets the wicket he wants. The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) said Bhowmick's visit had nothing to do with it.
"We don't feel our authority has been diminished in any way," CAB joint-secretary, Subir Ganguly, said. "I was asked by Mr Daljit Singh (pitches panel chief) last night if it would be okay if Bhowmick comes to help Probir Mukherjee. We had no problem."
Bhowmick, attached to the Tripura Cricket Association, has been instructed to be based at the Eden Gardens till the Test.
Mukherjee, after overseeing the groundsmen rolling the pitch and watering it, said he was not under any pressure to alter the traditional nature of the pitch. "Till date I have received no instruction from the BCCI regarding preparing the pitch," Mukherjee said.
He did not seem perturbed that Bhowmick would be present. "I have known Ashish for a long time and he has in the past wished to work with me. He had even come here on Monday. Today, I was informed that Ashish would be coming but I don't know the exact time of his arrival," he said.