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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > News > Report

Batting track for Indo-Pak game

Faisal Shariff in Johannesburg | February 28, 2003 22:28 IST

Four years ago, when India was to play Pakistan in a World Cup game at Old Trafford in England, it rained fishes.

The two sides face off again Saturday, against the backdrop of a threatening thundershower.

Unlike Kingsmead in Durban, though, the weather here rarely affects the course of the match; add to that the fact that it is a day fixture. The hour-long rain here has not affected the wicket at all, expect for the fact that the groundsmen have had to put the covers on two hours early.

It is not the weather that has influenced the nature of the wicket but the commercial importance of the game that has forced the groundsman to make a few changes to a wicket on which, on February 15, Australia decimated the Indian batting.

According to a member of the organizing committee, the wicket has been shaved of all grass to ensure a high-scoring game.

"I think India did not cope with the little grass on the wicket," said Hilbert Smith, the grounds contractor, referring to the few blades of grass that showed up on the strip on February 15.

"125 was not a score to get on this wicket; it was a 250 wicket. So we thought this time around let us have a totally flat track with at least 550 runs in it," he said, adding that the chasing side can hope to hunt down up to 280 on this ground.

According to statistics, day games at the Centurion average 422 runs, with the chasing average at 198 compared to the side batting first, which averages 224.

Chief groundsman Edward Mohlabeng said that if it is cold through the day, then the conditions will be even for both teams, but if there is early moisture in the morning and then warm weather as is being forecast, the side batting second will have the advantage in dry conditions perfect for batting.

Fortunately, the rains unleashed here earlier were the tail-end of a typical late afternoon thunderstorm. 20 minutes after the rains stopped, the super-sopper, with a capacity of sponging up 100 liters on one pass, was out on the field, drying it up within minutes.

The only fear is if there is rain tomorrow morning and the covers are pulled off 30-45 minutes before the game, there will be a lot of juice in the wicket for the bowers to exploit. In that case the side winning the toss should insert the opposition and look to get early wickets.

Smit, the grounds coordinator, said that if the match had been a day-night game the side batting second would have struggled to chase because unlike in the day when the moisture floats in the air, in the night the moisture settles on the grass and juices up the pitch.

He also told us of an experiment that was successfully tried out here, and which could be ideal for use in the World Cup.

The experiment involves the use of a chemical that, when sprayed on the field, leaves a thin oil layer on the grass so that water is not retained but flows over the surface.

He suggested that the ideal thing to do here is not have a single blade of grass on the wicket during day-night games to avoid the excess swing and seam movement for the side bowling second.

Weather Forecast: Partly cloudy and hot, with a 20 per cent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Winds will be calm at first, becoming light SE later.

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Number of User Comments: 2

Sub: too many typos ....

needs some editing before publishing ...

Posted by sri

Sub: Good detiails, Keep it up

dear faisal, this is a very well written article. with the World Cup, there has been surfeit of reporting from South Africa. All papers and ...

Posted by akhilesh


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