‘Unplayable’ Kotla in great state for World Cup

Yahoo cricket editorial blogs

Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium returned to international cricket for the first time since the Boxing Day debacle of 2009 when an India-Sri Lanka ODI here had to be abandoned due to a pitch considered unfit for play.

Kotla will also host three other World Cup matches, including the India-Netherlands game on March 9.

Kotla was slapped a one-year ban after that match where Sri Lanka's batsmen took several body blows. The pitch was re-laid under the watch of ICC's pitch consultant Andy Atkinson, who literally lived in India through the proceedings full of ups and downs.

South Africa skipper Graeme Smith however eased some nerves ahead of the match against West Indies by applauding the efforts of Kotla's groundsmen.

"I think you can see they have made a really big effort out here," Smith said. "The field is looking good; you can see they have put a lot of work into the surface. You got to commend them for that. Let's hope it all works out tomorrow."

However this didn't stop Smith from saying today was a good toss to lose. He wasn't quite sure what to do on this wicket and called West Indies to bat.

Mangesh Varavdekar, a journalist from Saamna, describes the situation colourfully. "Kotla has returned from banwass (exile) of 14 months. The pitch is spin-friendly and goundsmen have worked hard in the last one year for this abundant outfield."

Fans of both teams have thronged the stadium. This is unlike non-India matches played in India which do not draw big crowds. They seem to be welcoming the return of international cricket to the venue.

Kotla is known to be spin-friendly and Smith opened the attack with Johan Botha, who dismissed Chris Gayle third ball of the match.