Board prepares wicket according to Dhoni’s liking

Chennai was a dust bowl from the first session of the game.


Without taking anything away from the achievement of the Indian team, now on the verge of a big win over Australia in the first Test, the behaviour of the pitch went against the very tenets of the BCCI. The BCCI has officially put it in black and white that the pitch should provide a balanced contest between bat and ball during the five days of a Test (see box), and that at no time should it become dangerous and unplayable for batsmen while giving opportunities to players to display their skill.

BCCI, by all means, is free to prepare the kind of pitches it wants to provide the 'home advantage’, but it should still be a fair contest.

The MA Chidambaram Stadium pitch didn’t have any grass to assist the Australian pacers. Dust was flying from the very first session, and it was visible when the ground staff used the broom to sweep it frequently. The pitch gave lopsided advantage to the three Indian spinners who tormented the Australian batsmen.

On Monday, the pitch looked like a wrestling 'akhara’, created by the foot marks of the bowlers. The ball often bounced awkwardly, as Phillip Hughes particularly discovered to his horror against parttimer Ravindra Jadeja. And seconds before left- armer Jadeja bowled Peter Siddle, commentator and former Australian captain Allan Border said: "It’s impossible to play [ on it].” Debutant all- rounder Moises Henriques, who is batting on a fine 75 in Australia’s fight back, expressed his helplessness.

"A couple of balls hit my gloves. It’s a very tough wicket, to start with, especially against the spinners. It’s abrasive and balls are jumping. If you get out to anything like that, then you can’t do anything about it,” he told reporters.

So what has the BCCI really told its curators across its state associations? "For Test cricket to survive it’s imperative that the game entertains and is played on result oriented pitches,” it says in the chapter titled 'pitch preparation’ in its official guide for curators.

While the BCCI makes it clear that the weather conditions differ from venue to venue and different techniques/ clay content are used to prepare pitches, it points out that individual players should be allowed to display their skill.

"Preparation time would vary from one month to 15 days, depending upon local conditions and past experiences,” it writes.

Chennai usually has hot and humid weather, and it impacts pitches too. While the outfield is lush green, the pitch had none of it.

As India’s strength lies in spinners, the pitch was clearly prepared for them, particularly after captain Mahendra Singhj Dhoni openly aired his liking for turners.

After India defeated England in the first Test in Ahmedabad, Dhoni famously said of the Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium: "I don’t want to see this pitch again.” Dhoni also said that he wanted Indian pitches to turn from the start of a match. And that exactly seems to have happened in Chennai, which incidentally is the home of BCCI president N Srinivasan and like a second home to Dhoni as captains Chennai Super Kings, owned by the former.

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