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Pitching it Right for World T20 2016

This has led to speculation whether there were instructions to the local curator to prepare a wicket that will suit the Indian team.

Published: 18th March 2016 12:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th March 2016 08:07 AM   |  A+A-

India World T20 Crick_Mukh (1)

KOLKATA: We have already drifted into the second week of the Twenty20 World Cup and the fireworks have already started, on and off the field. There have been a few expected and unexpected results. New Zealand’s stunning win at Nagpur over favourites India was the biggest upset of sorts, although it was a different matter the Kiwis had won all the previous four matches prior to this one.

That loss has upset the calculations of the home team. Played on a rank turner, India fell to the lesser known spinners of New Zealand in their opening match. This has led to speculation whether there were instructions to the local curator to prepare a wicket that will suit the Indian team. Or did the over-zealous officials overdo it by making a rank turner.

One can understand, if it is a Test match, where at times the host nation can take advantage of a pitch to the home team’s strength. In fact, the last such incident was at the same venue where India outplayed South Africans on a turning track. The match referee Jeff Crowe did not mince words while submitting his report to the ICC. Incidentally, Nagpur is home to BCCI president Shashank Manohar.

In this case, it is a Twenty20 tournament and India’s strength is their batting. They had fielded one genuine spinner in Ravichandran Ashwin. But New Zealand were smart enough to play three spinners, who spun a web around the Indian batsmen. Did the Indians read the wicket wrong?

But the damage has already been done and there was loss of face for India. At same time the defeat has put the home side in a tight spot in the Super Ten Group 2. It was not what the doctor ordered for the Indians, who were considered favourites before the start of the tournament. Strangely, other wickets where the matches have been played so far have behaved properly and there is good value for the batsmen.

In fact, there is a popular perception among teams that it is a batsman’s paradise in this part of the world. Pakistan coach Waqar Younis insisted that the bowlers have to be smart while operating in India otherwise they are in trouble. The batsmen take full advantage of anyone bowling short or full. One has to be immaculate with their line and length. In fact, most of the IPL matches over the last eight years have seen batsmen-oriented pitches.

Again the point here is, the T20 World Cup is being played at nine centres. The BCCI pitches committee, headed by Daljit Singh, would surely have done their homework. The wickets and conditions will vary from venue to venue.

The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai has a red soil content and is close to the Arabian Sea. As such, there could be seam movement and some bounce for the bowlers. But at the same time, the batsman could enjoy their batting as Chris Gayle did with his 47-ball century against England the other day.

As one former cricketer pointed out, the wicket preparations are sometimes at the hands of the curator. "They prepare wicket according to the instructions given by the home team management. Usually, when you don’t water much, the wicket will become dry and there could be some cracks on it. Of late, in most of the first class matches, we have got this fascination of green wickets and there are hardly spinners' track. In places like Mohali, Delhi or Dharmasala, if there is green wicket, there is more swing and seam. In Bengaluru, we have good sporting wickets but in IPL matches, it is always a high scoring match there. Of course, reading the wicket at times can get tricky with the team getting it wrong and thereby getting into trouble."



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