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Wicket for Irani tie promises a good contest

Ashish Magotra in Chennai | September 17, 2003 17:01 IST

A sporting wicket, on the face of it, may be just what the curator at the M A Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, K Parthasarathy, has prepared. The pitch may offer a lot of bounce early on, but is likely to slow down and last the full five days.

Chennai has always had among the more sporting wickets in the country and this time promises to be no different. India has won as many as nine Test matches at the ground, a record. The venue has also produced the most results among Indian grounds (15).

Venkat Sundaram, head of the Board of Control for Cricket in India's pitches committee, said the match against Australia in Chennai in the 2001 series saw the last good pitch for Test cricket prepared in India.

"There was something for the batsmen and the bowlers and that ensured such an exciting close finish," he said.

Parthasarathy is now looking to live up to that standard.

"The weather in the last three-four days has been cloudy and the seamers will get assistance from the pitch if the conditions don't change," he said. "The role of spinners in the game will only be decided once the sun comes out in full force and dries the wicket completely."

From the looks of it, the wicket appears to be loaded in favour of the bowlers, but Parthasarathy insisted that it is a true wicket on which the batsman can play his shots once he is set.

In his five Tests at Chennai, Sachin Tendulkar has scored four centuries and helped India to three famous victories. So there is definitely something there for the batsmen.

"The bowlers should most probably stick to bowling just short of length and the batsmen will have to adjust accordingly," the curator advised.

While there is grass on the wicket, it is just enough to act as a natural binding agent so that the wicket does not start to break too early.

The conditions are hot and humid, which will be tough on the players, but that is what we have come to expect from Chennai over the years and most of the experienced players will be accustomed to it.

"Earlier, before the stands were built, a good sea breeze used to blow across the stadium in the afternoon session, a lot like the Wankhede Stadium, and aid the bowlers. But now it is not as big a factor," Parthasarathy said.

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