Kanpur:It is neither the record-defending Indian helmsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni nor his Sri Lankan counterpart Kumar Sangakkara. Less than 48 hours before the second Test between the neighbours, Green Park Stadium's curator Shiv Kumar insists he is the man most under pressure.
"You feel as gingerly as a bride's father on the eve of his daughter's marriage. It's basically a thankless job and you are out to please everyone. Knives will be out the moment pitch misbehaves," Kumar philosophically summed up the situation he finds himself in.
"And even when you deliver a good strip, nobody would come and pat you on your back. But then that is a curator's life and we cannot complaint," he added.
The diminutive pitch doctor is all the more edgy because of the debate on Test cricket being on its deathbed and how placid track was only expediting the end.
The first Test in Ahmedabad, a yawn-fest on an unresponsive shirtfront, has only added to his pressure and Kumar cannot help being restless.
"It's a tough job. You lose sleep till you hand over the ground to the match officials. And even then, you wait with bated breath to see how things unfold," he said.
Nearly 1600 runs were scored in Ahmedabad, including seven tons - a sub-continental record - while the hapless bowlers toiled over five days for a meagre collection of 21 wickets. .
"But I can assure you that it's going to last five full days and will have something for the batsmen, pacers and spinners. But all would depend on who capitalises on the conditions," Kumar explained.
"First two days, ball would come nicely and the early moisture means there would be some movement early on. But from third day tea session, there would be wear and tear. There will be footmarks as well and naturally the ball would turn.
To cut a long story short, it would be a traditional Test wicket track which would do no mischief," he said.
Kumar is extra cautious because he still remembers the public outcry after the last Test here in which India beat South Africa within three days and the ICC censured BCCI on the sub-standard track.
"I'm still rankled and wonder why people made so much of fuss over the track. They said they had not seen a bigger turner. But I still remember, pacers took 70 percent of the wickets in that match," he said.
"This time, we are using the centre track in which we had most international matches till 2002. Since then, we had mostly first class matches on it. This season also, we had under-22 match in which Bhuvneswar Kumar grabbed 12 wickets, which is a tell-tale of the track's nature," he said.
Sangakkara and his comrade-in-arms, who are out to snap their 15-match winless streak on Indian soil, had their practice session this morning and they inspected the pitch. In the afternoon, Dhoni and his men - who would do everything to prolong the Lankan jinx - also had a dekko at it.
Both the off-colour spinners, Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra, spent some time kneeling on the turf and getting a feel of it.
Kumar said the curators these days are under tremendous pressure but he would not chicken out.
"There is so much of unwelcome spotlight on us and the expectation, I would say is unjust. But this is also a challenge for us and we have to blend traditional wisdom with modern technology to see us through," added Kumar.