Motera curator promises good pitch

Dheeraj Prasanna, pitch curator at the Motera stadium in Ahmedabad must an anxious man these days specially after that draw in Chennai.

updated: April 15, 2008 12:19 IST
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After the run-glut on a flat Chennai pitch, all eyes would be on the Motera wicket for the second Test between India and South Africa starting from Thursday even as its curator on Tuesday said he expected it to be a "sporting one".

"I expect the wicket to be a sporting one, helping the fast bowlers initially and then giving aid to spinners on the last two days. We have kept some grass on it. The soil mixture is 50 per cent clay and the rest mostly a mixture of red and black soil," said curator Dhiraj Parsana.

"The free grass cover on the surface can help the seam bowlers. They can expect some carry. I expect the wicket to behave better than at Chennai," the former left-arm Test medium pacer said.

The Chidambaram Stadium wicket at Chepauk in Chennai was so heart-breaking for the bowlers that 1500 runs, the second-highest ever tally on Indian wickets in Tests, were scored and 25 wickets fell in five hot and humid days.

Incidentally, the last Test SA have played at this venue more than a decade ago saw a dramatic collapse of the visiting team's batting line up, not against the Indian spin on a dust-bowl of a track but against speedster Javagal Srinath.

In a move of inspiration, captain Sachin Tendulkar brought on the Bangalore stalwart for a new spell with the old ball when everyone thought that spin would hold the key and the latter bowled a devastating spell which helped skittle out the visitors for a paltry 105 chasing 170 for victory. Srinath was on hat-trick twice in that stint and also took the last two wickets off successive balls to send SA to their doom.

India won that Test, lost the second one at Eden Gardens before clinching the 1996 series 2-1 by winning the third and final match at Green Park, Kanpur the venue of the last Test of the current series too.

Srinath finished with 6 for 21 in 11.5 overs, figures he bettered later against Pakistan at the Eden Gardens. That match, incidentally, was also the debut Test for VVS Laxman.