NAGPUR: For Wriddhiman Saha, the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium on the outskirts of Maharashtra’s winter capital is a special place. It was here one February morning in 2010 that he got the news of his Test debut. An injury to Rohit Sharma hours before the match opened the door for him as a specialist batsman.
If that Test was played on a surface where South Africa amassed 558 before inflicting a rare home innings defeat on India, Saha’s second appearance in Nagpur in 2015 saw the hosts make short work of the same team on a pitch turning square from the first ball. This time, too, there is interest in the pitch, following the Indian team’s wish to play on grass.
Even though the rectangle was covered on Wednesday afternoon, it looked green when the sheets were removed for members of the Indian team to have a look. There was grass and it is to be seen if it stays till November 24. Sometimes, grass is kept to hold the surface and removed a day before a match.
Saha, among those who came for practice on a day skipper Virat Kohli and the fast bowlers opted for rest, gave little away. “I haven’t seen the pitch. It was covered. Whatever the pitch, we’ll go with the flow.
Previous results here will be at the back of our minds. But we will stay in the present. What happened two years ago, need not necessarily be the same.”
He did hint at the team wanting to play on a grassy surface, like in the first Test. “We need to take 20 wickets to win a Test. And of course, at the back of the mind, we will think of South Africa and other tours.”
Having come close to a victory despite being pushed to a corner early in the first Test on a seaming wicket, the Indians will think they can do it here. With Ishant Sharma joining the contingent after being released for the Ranji Trophy, the hosts’ pace department is in full strength barring Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is on leave to get married.
“We did not play that well in the first innings (in Kolkata). But the way we came back and batted in the second innings and the way the bowlers attacked in their second innings, the mood in the team is good. With more time, we could have won that match. We are focussed on winning this one.”