CHENNAI: The Eden Gardens pitch has received rave reviews for facilitating an exciting Test match, where fortunes kept changing till the last hour. The cover of grass on the playing surface is widely being appreciated for injecting life into the contest, the absence of which is threatening the existence of Test cricket.
Come this weekend and Nagpur is expected to present a different picture, as far as grass is concerned. The pitch for the second Test starting on November 24 is unlikely to sport the kind of green look it did in Kolkata. According to indications, the VCA Stadium will present a more “typically” India track, where spin is supposed to play a role third day onwards.
Pitch preparation is looked after by the BCCI’s pitches and grounds committee. One from this five-member committee goes to every venue hosting an international before the match to oversee what the local curator is doing. Central Zone member of this panel, Tapas Chatterjee arrived in Nagpur on Monday to supervise the work done by Vidarbha Cricket Association’s Pravin Hinganikar. Everyone involved has been barred from pitch talk, after the sting operation involving Pune curator Pandurang Salgaoncar before the New Zealand ODI last month.
Sources told Express vegetation is unlikely to be a feature of the pitch, the nature of which became a talking point twice in the last two years when Nagpur hosted international matches, and also prior to that. “It’s unlikely that there will be a grass cover like Eden Gardens. You can expect more of a normal Indian wicket that offers turn in the second half of Tests, instead of something drastically different.”
Authorities in VCA have reason to play safe than laying out something extravagant, considering Nagpur’s record. In 2004, there was storm over a green top for a Test at the old stadium where Australia beat India. The South Africa Test in 2015 at the present stadium was over in three days on a viciously spinning track that drew a reprimand from the ICC. World T20 matches next year too saw pitches offering spin.
However, the situation was closer to normal for the India-Australia ODI on October 1 this year, when teams didn’t field extra spinners. Two Ranji Trophy matches this season also saw decent totals. Point to note? Grass was restricted to the outfield on those occasions.