Aussies may get stuck in Kotla web


New Delhi: Since the pitch fiasco in the 2009 ODI against Sri Lanka, the Ferozeshah Kotla track has come under the scanner before every international game.

It is no different this time, but with the Aussies roiling and embarrassing, the seemingly dry pitch may not cop all the blame if the match finishes early.

Before the start of this series, the BCCI shifted the Delhi Test right at the end. Initially, it was scheduled to be the series opener.

The change has allowed the game to happen in drier March than cooler February and kill every possibility of moisture affecting the wicket and playing to the Aussie pacers' strength.

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No grass

One look at the track reveals the wisdom behind the decision. "We haven't left any grass. The wicket is result-oriented," says Chetan Chauhan, chairman of the pitch committee, DDCA.

He added that the game would last all five days and is a good Test match wicket.

Others at the home of Delhi cricket are less optimistic, with some saying it may finish inside three-and-half days. With temperatures expected to rise in the next few days, it'll help the track lose more life.

It has been learnt that the India team management wanted its way on the nature of track. If it materialises, it could mean the spinners playing a role.

Traditionally, the Kotla track has kept low because of the black soil used in preparation. Even during this season's Ranji Trophy matches, there were plays when the bowlers struggled for bounce.

Tough pitch

So, there may not be the vicious turn and jump of the red-soil laden Chennai track. The sluggishness and low bounce of the track, say critics, will be tough for the Aussies, who'll have to bend even further, literally, to dig deep.

"On a track like this, you tend to get more leg-before decisions as there is slow turn and the ball keeps low. The bowler has to be accurate, bowl wicket to wicket and someone like Ravindra Jadeja or even R Ashwin can be a handful for the Aussies," says a player who's studied its nature over the past 25 years.

The belief is that if the India bat first, they'll rack up well over 400 and then skittle out the inexperienced Aussies. If the Aussies bat first, they'll be five down early and then lose momentum.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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