'We have stopped watering the pitch. There will not be much grass.'
With the spotlight firmly on the pitch, Board of Control for Cricket in India's curator Kasturi Sriram said that unlike the Rajkot wicket, the 22-yard strip in Visakhapatnam to be provided for the second Test against England "won't have much grass".
With the Indian spinners, especially off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, being rendered ineffective primarily due to lack of assistance from the pitch, it is only natural that the hosts would expect a strip that's to their advantage.
"We have stopped watering the pitch. There will not be much grass and we should expect the ball to turn from lunch on Day 2," Sriram said adding that there has not been any instruction from the Indian team.
"Yesterday (Sunday), it was cold and today it's drastically hot and humid and wicket appears dry now. We will see how is it on the eve of the match."
Like Rajkot, Visakhapatnam will be hosting its very first Test match.
Andhra Cricket Association secretary Gokaraju Gangaraju’s comments contradicted the curator’s.
"We have prepared a neutral wicket and it should assist both the teams equally. We hope to see a result," ACA secretary and BCCI vice president Gangaraju said.
On October 29, at the same venue, New Zealand were shot out for 79 on a slow turner to hand India the five-match ODI series 3-2.
The Vizag pitch made headlines for the wrong reasons when Rajasthan bowled out Assam for 69 in their second innings of a Ranji Trophy match that ended inside three days, with their coach Sunil Joshi, a former India left-arm spinner, crying foul.
But Gangaraju stressed that one should not draw parallels with the Ranji Trophy wicket.
"The Assam (Ranji match) wicket was a different one and some miscommunication had led to that."
Referring to the New Zealand ODI, he said: "The wicket had a bit of moisture during the India-New Zealand match. But it was their inept batting that led to the collapse."
With spin-friendly conditions on offer, the toss will play a key role as England have made their intentions clear having won the spin battle in Rajkot.
Their spin trio of Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid and Zafar Ansari accounted for a share of 13 wickets compared to nine taken by the Indian spinners.