Ahmedabad Pitch and That Rohit Sharma Look


Before the Indian players started with their warm-up drills, Rohit Sharma made the long walk down the dressing room via a very long tunnel and headed towards the square where two pitches were under the covers.

He ignored the one on the far right and instructed the ground staff to remove covers off the one he was standing close to. The captain seemed far away from the boundary rope, where your’s truly stood, but a borrowed binocular helped in seeing Rohit’s first reaction to the 22 yards. And, it didn’t seem a pleasant one.

The 35-year-old had his both hands up in animated fashion, as if suggesting to the curator and ground staff, “ye kya hai (what is this)”. Again, not an analysis of a lip-reading expert but some observations after seeing the skipper’s reaction. He inspected the strip from different angles, did some shadow batting too and was constantly in the ground staff’s ears.

Rohit was alone to start the inspection but soon had the company of coach Rahul Dravid, batting coach Vikram Rathour and bowling coach Paras Mhambrey. The think tank paced up and down the surface and continued to chat with the ground staff.

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Rohit and Rahul did have a mini-discussion of sorts away from the group for a brief period before the former exited the scene and commenced his warm-up. The right-hander did check the firmness of the strip on multiple occasions, from multiple spots, and it could well be the reason for his response. In comparison to Nagpur, Delhi and Indore, this looked the freshest of the lot and gave no impressions of a dry rank-turner. Not to forget there was a lot of unexpected rain last evening.

Morning session look of the square (Courtesy: Sahil Malhotra)

Cheteshwar Pujara and Kuldeep Yadav were the next pair to reach the square and the former went down on his knees to get a close feel of the surface. He pressed his fingers on the strip from different positions and seemed keen on ascertaining how hard or soft it was.

When all this was going on, Rahul used a new SG ball to do a bounce test near what seemed like the popping crease area. The bounce test didn’t return positive but a fresh bout of sunlight and some rolling will help iron out flaws, if any, on that front.

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Soil sourced from Kolkata for two pitches

The ground-staff seems confident of having a game of “at least four days” and most feel it will not be the raging rank-turner seen in Indore, where the game lasted a little over two days. The excess green in between the two covered wickets did spice things up in the morning session where the visiting Australian media thought something different could well be in store.

Two pitches cause confusion (Courtesy: Sahil Malhotra)

The bigger confusion for most in the morning was to figure out which pitch was being prepared for the match. The entire square was cordoned off, was not under covers and it was difficult to make out which pitch will be the match pitch.

On speaking to the ground-staff and quizzing them on the fresh look of the square, it was brought to our notice that fresh soil has been sourced from Kolkata and two pitches have been re-laid. They will most likely be used from next season onwards.

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“Kolkata se mitti mangwaya hai (soil has come from Kolkata) and it has been used for two wickets. Do naya wicket tayyar ho raha hai, aur agle season se istemaal hoga,” a member of the groundstaff told News18 CricketNext.

‘Don’t know why second pitch was covered’

Unlike the morning session, there was clarity in the afternoon when Rohit & Co trained. The inspection was done of the match pitch only, the one under covers on the left (left of the players’ box/tunnel), and no attention was paid to the covered one on the extreme right.

Indian skipper Rohit Sharma’s first inspection of the pitch (Courtesy: Sahil Malhotra)

“I don’t know why two strips are covered. I never asked him why he (the curator) covered the other strip. I didn’t see the other one. I just looked at the one we are playing on and it looks okay to me. Whatever the wicket is, it honestly doesn’t matter. There is a lot of talk around the pitches. It is the same for both teams. It is more challenging for the batters at times and more challenging for the bowlers at times. Wickets are like that. Whatever it is, we have to learn to play on them. We have to learn to adjust and we have played on some challenging wickets overseas as well. We played in South Africa recently where the spinners were completely taken out of the game. Everyone is trying to produce wickets which give results,” Dravid said on the pitch during the press conference.

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As much as the team, captain, coach and management try to downplay the pitch talk, it continues to be the point of interest in the build-up to every fixture of this Border Gavaskar Trophy. And, Ahmedabad has been no different.

From a series standpoint, a lot is at stake for both sides and the hosts in particular would be gunning for a win to secure their World Test Championship final berth.

Whether this is the ideal pitch to get a result in their favour is something we will find out in a couple of days’ time but all eyeballs will continue to be hooked to the 22 yards. The Indore strip changed drastically from how it was during the practice sessions and while Ahmedabad wears a fresh look, there’s a possibility of it going the drier, if not rank-turner, route.

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