International cricket to return to Kotla on Thursday

Only 23.3 overs of play was possible in that game before umpires Marais Erasmus and Shahvir Tarapore, in consultation with match referee Alan Hurst, decided to call off the game after the surface was deemed to pose a genuine threat to limb and wicket to the Sri Lankans, who were batting at that time.

The Kotla authorities had steadfastly disregarded an ICC Events Management team’s directive to clean up their act during a preliminary World Cup visit towards the end of 2009, and were therefore forced to pay the ultimate penalty, apart from inviting great embarrassment.

The high-profile Group B World Cup encounter between South Africa and the West Indies, the opening match for both teams, will return Kotla to international hosting status and this time around, the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) has seemingly left no stone unturned in its bid to prevent a repeat of the December 2009 fiasco.

The ICC’s pitch consultant Andy Atkinson has been working actively with local authorities and curator Venkat Sundaram.

From a distance, the 22-yard strip wears a liberal coat of green that will gradually disappear before play begins, but the general consensus is that this track will certainly not crumble, unlike its not-so-illustrious predecessor.

Former Indian opener Chetan Chauhan, now a vice-president of the DDCA, said he was confident the  surface would play true.

“We tested the pitch this morning, and the bounce was quite impressive,” Chauhan observed. “In my opinion, this is a very good pitch and will make for entertaining cricket. I believe it’s a 300-track.”

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