With all eyes on whether Sachin Tendulkar will light up the first day's play with his 100th international hundred, the response of the fans at the Ferozshah Kotla was lukewarm on a Sunday after West Indies chose to bat first.
But what stood out was the lacklustre pitch laid out for the
West Indies batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul celebrates his century during the first day of the first Test match between India and West Indies in New Delhi.
series opener that contributed to largely unattractive cricket. It is universally acknowledged that these are testing times for Test cricket. The oldest and longest format is under pressure from the limited-over versions, and fan fatigue is quite evident in India. The team's capitulation in England has not helped, and the 5-0 One-day sweep in the return series does not seem to have done much to change that mood as Day One suggested.
What greeted the few thousands of spectators who did come out to witness action on a holiday was low bounce in the very first hour. The deliveries from Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav, who both bowled at a decent pace, kept low. Some reached 'keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on second bounce.
Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, brought on in the ninth over, bowled creditably to take three wickets but later acknowledged that there was little life in the pitch, a view echoed by fellow spinner and debutant R Ashwin. "It had no bounce, no turn, nothing," said the offie.
With professional sport constantly looking up to packaging, such an insipid track can't help. Although the BCCI points to its rotation policy in choosing venues, what stops the cricket Board from ensuring matches are played only on sporting pitches, especially with India also viewing the series as preparation for the tough tour Down Under.