Kolkata:Facing criticism for the poor strip for the Indian Premier League tie against Deccan Chargers, Eden Gardens curator Kalyan Mitra went to the Kolkata Knight Riders dressing room and apologised to the players even as there was a move to fly in a pitch consultant from Australia to improve the state of the wicket.
"The curator came to our dressing room after the match and apologised to all of us. He has promised a better wicket for our next match as also the five other games the team will play at the Eden later in the tournament," Australian captain Ricky Ponting, a member of the Knight Riders, disclosed here.
After losing the match on Sunday, Deccan Chargers skipper VVS Laxman described the pitch as "shocking for any format of the game."
Echoing Laxman, Ponting said "We are very shocked at the nature of the pitch. Hopefully we will get a better wicket in the next match."
An annoyed BCCI has asked its pitch and grounds committee chairman Daljit Singh to rush to the Eden and suggest remedies.
Cricket Association of Bengal President Prasun Mukherjee said CAB has agreed to a proposal from Jai Mehta, the co-owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders, that a pitch consultant be brought from Australia to inspect the wicket.
"I told him we have no problems with that. The pitch is being prepared by our local curators under the supervision of Daljit Singh.
"The Australian pitch specialist, Daljit and our curator can jointly inspect the pitch and decide on the remedial measures," Mukherjee told PTI.
Daljit said BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah and IPL cricket committee co-chairman M P Pandove called him up and asked him to proceed to the city. "I also received a message from IPL cricket committee chairman M A K Pataudi. They have all expressed serious concern over the wicket. I will be inspecting the ground this evening," he said.
Pointing out that the pitch and ground were responsilities of the host association, Daljit said "We have to accept that it was not a track suitable for the game. We have to ensure a better wicket. Eden Gardens is a great ground. We expect better wickets at a venue like this." The two-paced pitch caused much discomfort to batsmen, who found it hard to play shots and the Twenty20 game was uncharacteristically low-scoring.
The unpredictable naure of the track also foxed the rival skippers, who took blows on their bodies.
While a rising off-cutter from Ishant Sharma left Laxman wringing his hands in pain after being hit, a Chaminda Vaas delivery jumped suddenly from the good length spot to strike Sourav Ganguly on the right side of his chest.
The hassled curator Kalyan Mitra stayed away from the media, but the CAB stood behind him.
"He will be in charge till the end of his contract in July. We have no plans to replace him," CAB joint secretary Samar Pal told PTI.
He said an emergency meeting was held with the curators and other members of the pitch committee last night to prepare an improved wicket in the next match.
"We found that the wicket did not behave as it should have as the surface was dry. We are taking the needed steps."
Besides the pitch, the CAB has also faced flak for the inconvenience caused to spectators for unclean washrooms, shortage of drinking water and a power snag which halted play for 31 minutes. "The PWD pump did not work. That's the reason for the water shortage," Pal explained.
The CAB president said a meeting would be held at the city police headquarters tomorrow to ensure foolproof arrangements for the coming ties.
Officials of the CAB, Kolkata Police, power utility CESC and PWD's electrical department officials would be present to prevent any future power snags.
Former CAB president Jagmohan Dalmiya took the opportunity to make a veiled criticism of the CAB.
"The whole world saw what happened. I have nothing more to say. Because if I do so they (CAB officials) will think I am up against them." Meanwhile, CAB insiders said Mitra had been blacklisted after he prepared a minefield of a wicket for the 1996 day-night World Cup semi final between India and Sri Lanka.
The track became unplayable during the second half of the match, when even a part-time spinner like Sanath Jayasuriya extracted vicious turn.
As one Indian batsman after another got out, unable to read the treacherous track, the crowd turned violent and the match could not be finished. Sri Lanka was granted passage to the final owing to the crowd disturbances.
Mitra was reinstated once the present Mukherjee-led regime took over after Jagmohan Dalmiya's resignation from the top post.
The curator had also faced criticism after he prepared a dull track for the India-Pakistan Test last year, which petered to a tame draw.