Spotlight on Green Park pitch ahead of 2nd Test


Ahmedabad last week had thrown up a batting beauty, a completely flat track that made for a bowlers’ nightmare, in stark contest to what Green Park offered when during the last Test here, against South Africa in April 2008.

A veritable dust bowl, designed to help India pull off a series-levelling win after their three-day capitulation in the previous game, coincidentally in Ahmedabad, had attracted the censure of ICC match referee Roshan Mahanama and a stern warning from cricket’s world governing body.

The universal condemnation of that track appears to have had its effect, because a carpet of green adorning a hard but hardly dry base greeted Sri Lanka and India on Sunday. In all probability, curator Shiv Kumar will remove some of the liberal coating of grass, but even so, this pitch should make for a better cricketing contest than last year, when the bowlers, especially India’s spinners, had a field day.

The injury bug that afflicted Australia on during their one-day tour of India appears to be contagious. Sri Lanka have already lost the services of Thilan Thushara, back home with a sore shoulder, and will almost certainly be without Dammika Prasad for the second Test after the right-arm quick picked up a grade one hamstring tear in Ahmedabad.
To make matters worse, ace opening batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan broke his nose during a game of football after the conclusion of the final day’s play in the first Test, and Mahela Jayawardene, the new number one Test batsman, is struggling with a fragmented tooth, but both men should be available for this game. The Lankans had an extended training session in the morning, getting off to a quick 8.00 am start before making way for the Indians, who arrived at 2.00 pm and went through their paces for two and a half hours before fading light drove them indoors by 4.30 pm.

Zaheer Khan was conspicuous by his absence -- ‘relaxing’ in the hotel, said one source but typically, no official word was forthcoming – but the rest were in full attendance, M Vijay and Pragyan Ojha rejoining the squad after their Ranji Trophy outings.
Neither man is expected to force his way into the eleven in the normal course of things as India look set to go in with an unchanged side. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are seriously considering fielding all three spinners, a gamble of sorts but a genuine possibility following the injury to Prasad. Whether Thushara’s replacement, paceman Dilhara Fernando, sneaks ahead of Ajantha Mendis will depend to a great extent on what look the pitch wears over the next day and a half, and what the Lankans make of the conditions.

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