Bouncy pitch awaits SA, Holland in Mohali
With the city receiving showers till Tuesday and the conditions overcast in the past few days, it was a sigh of relief for the local organisers when sun came out on Wednesday morning, ahead of the World Cup clash between South Africa and the Netherlands in Mohali on hursday.
However, with the Chandigarh Meteorological Department forecasting more rain, chief curator of the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) stadium Daljeet Singh is keeping his fingers crossed.
"The wicket has been under cover for some time and that might affect the expected quality a bit. Thankfully, there is good sun today; otherwise the pitch would have been a little sluggish. It was under covers for last five-six days," Daljeet said on the eve of the match.
"But if there is rain tomorrow, that would mean some last-minute hectic work and running around to keep the track in good form," he added.
Since becoming an international venue, Mohali has hosted only one day game so far, the inaugural match at the PCA ground in 1993.
Since then it was always a day-night affair at the ground. Interestingly, South Africa were a part of that contest against India and the Proteas ended up on the losing side.
Image: The pitch at the PCA stadium is covered as psychologist Henning Gericke and Andrew Hudson train during the South Africa team's practice session.
Photographs: Getty Images
Mohali track famous for being bouncy
The sub-continent wickets are known for favouring batsmen, but the Mohali track is traditionally famous for being bouncy.
And Daljeet, on his part, has made sure that the pitch plays to its reputation.
"It's practically the end of season, and with so much cricket having been played on it, we had to make sure that it didn't keep low and slow. That's why we have left some grass on the wicket.
"It will have some good pace and bounce throughout the match and will be able to hold itself for all 100 overs," said the curator.
Image: Jacques Kallis trains in the nets
'ICC happy to see ODI-perfect wicket'
Although the Mohali pitch is expected to play even throughout game, Daljeet said it is always advisable for the teams that to bat first after winning the toss.
"As far as Mohali is concerned, there will be morning coolness here, so whosoever bowls first will have a slight advantage for the initial 10 to 12 overs. There will be more turn. But, otherwise, the pitch will play even throughout the match," he said.
Daljeet also said that the ICC inspected the Mohali pitch around three-four times and it's chief pitch curator Andy Atkinson was "happy to see an ODI-perfect wicket".
"Others generally expect India to make pitches suitable to our style of play, but every wicket in the World Cup is set as per ICC directives. They all are ODI tracks, giving a slight advantage to the batsmen, but not entirely.
"It's the end of season everywhere in the country, so the wickets are, obviously, playing a little slow. But the pitches in Wankhede and Kolkata are comparatively fresh as there had not been much cricket on them," concluded Daljeet.
Image: South Africa may rest one of their three frontline spinners and draft in pace bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe for Thursday's match
South Africa's team selection will depend on the weather
When South African coach Corrie van Zyl was asked if they would go with a different combination considering the nature of the pitch, he said a lot would depend on the weather as well as the condition of the wicket in the morning.
"Combination is going to be totally different from the first match but a lot would depend on the conditions.
"We will look at the conditions today and tomorrow. Also, weather needs to be taken into consideration. And only after judging the conditions here, the weather and the history we would select the playing XI," said van Zyl.
Image: Johan Botha (L) and Robin Peterson leave the field after the team's practice session