On expected lines, with two days to go for the semifinal, the drama over the Wankhede Stadium wicket has already started.
The West Zone head of BCCI’s pitches and grounds committee, Dhiraj Parsana, has been in attendance here since Sunday, and on Tuesday evening, the head of BCCI’s grounds and wickets committee, Daljit Singh, also landed at the Wankhede. Then there are Mumbai Cricket Association’s pitch consultant Sudhir Naik and curator Ramesh Mhamunkar who are overseeing the pitch preparation.
With the ICC’s head of grounds and pitches committee, Andy Atkinson also expected to reach Wankhede after finishing pitch preparation for the first semifinal at Delhi, it will be an assembly line of curators like never before seen at one venue.
No one has so far mentioned it, but from all indications the idea is to have a wicket which will be play to the home team’s strengths, that is a turning track. The wickets at the Wankhede Stadium have been full of runs and in their game against England here, West Indies chased down a target of 180 plus with Gayle hitting the fastest hundred in World T20 Cups. The West Indies batting is full of power-hitters, but have a weakness against the turning ball.
Atkinson has already issued instructions to the ground staff to inform him in case anyone tries to influence the pitch preparation, but the BCCI has various ways to get their job done. Naik is a tough man, known to stand his ground, hence it looks like the BCCI is wary and want to ensure nothing goes wrong.
Naik had a showdown with Team Director Ravi Shastri during India’s last international here, in October against South Africa, because of a very flat surface. However, this time, the wicket Naik and Mhamunkar have prepared will also offer some turn but not to the extent of Nagpur and Kolkata.
Compared to the earlier batting tracks used in this tournament, the one for the semifinal will be more dry owing to the hot weather now. So far, India have got wickets to their liking.