After a bald surface in Kanpur where the ball turned without making survival impossible for a greater part of the first Test, the teams are likely to witness something different at Eden Gardens. The venue for the second Test has laid out a new pitch and preparations have been affected significantly by rains.
Beginning on September 30, about three-four weeks before cricket starts in Kolkata because of late monsoons, this will be the first Test at Eden with Sourav Ganguly heading the Cricket Association of Bengal. A propagator of pitches with something for quicker bowlers even at home, the former India captain has tried to change the character of what hasn’t been a lively surface for over a decade.
“I’ll take a look at it tomorrow (Wednesday) to be able to judge what exactly we have. But what we are trying to put in place is a good, hard wicket where the ball will have carry and come onto the bat. There could be a bit of grass on it. Spin will come into the picture later in the match, not straightaway. Maybe we can expect turn in the second half of the Test,” Ganguly told Express from Kolkata on Tuesday.
News of no spin in the early part of the Test may not delight the Indian team, although no one knows how a new strip would behave if it stays under covers for a long time, like the one at Eden has been. The teams reached the city on Tuesday evening are scheduled to go to the ground on Wednesday.
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After taking over as CAB president last September, Ganguly has been proactive and introduced the use of a new variety of grass on the pitch. It’s called Bermuda Grass and Eden gets its supply from Odisha. “It makes the wicket harder and the ball travels better. The best part is, it grows back faster, so that little time is wasted in preparations. If the weather is good, we can expect a sporting track for this match,” added the man with 113 Test and 311 ODI caps, who has personally been overseeing preparations.
It rained heavily in Kolkata in the last month or so and affected preparations, as the pitch and the entire ground was under covers. There is forecast of more rain over the next week. This is why those preparing the pitch are keeping fingers crossed and saying there would be a touch of green on the playing surface.
“The pitch has been covered for most of the last several weeks and there is moisture in the air. So there will be dampness. If we remove the grass completely, this extra moisture might make the surface unplayable. So we have to keep a bit of grass. Not to assist seam movement, but to protect the surface from dampness,” said sources involved with preparations.