Pitch uncertainty surprises UP skipper Kaif

It was, therefore, no surprise to see Mohammad Kaif wear a perplexed look on Saturday afternoon. The Uttar Pradesh skipper wasn’t certain which track at the Chinnaswamy stadium was going to be used for the semifinal against Karnataka beginning on Sunday, though the UP team apart, it seemed as if everyone else at the ground knew that the centre strip -- used for Test cricket -- would be the one employed for this game.

“We still don’t know what wicket we will be playing on,” Kaif told newsmen. “You can understand something like this happening a smaller centre. But this is Bangalore, an established Test centre, so we expect something better. That doesn’t bother us too much, however. We have played here before and we know what to expect. It usually becomes slow and low as the match progresses. Already, there are a few cracks on both the strips, it will be interesting to see what kind of effect they have with wear and tear.”

The Chinnaswamy stadium square was on the brink of being re-prepared after being run to the ground during the inaugural Karnataka Premier League when the call went out to Narayan Raju, the curator, to prepare a surface for the semifinal, late last week.
A track with a little bit in terms of pace and bounce early on, but that will get slower and lower as the game goes on and might keep the spinners interested, is what is generally predicted.

That’s why Karnataka are a little unsure about what bowling combination to put out. “Generally, we have played a 3-1 (seam-spin) combination this season, but this looks a different wicket,” said skipper Rahul Dravid. “Fortunately, we have enough options at our disposal, and we will take a final call in the morning.”

Both Dravid and Kaif warned against reading too much into Karnataka’s 185-run win over UP in Meerut in November. “We can take confidence from that win but to be honest, UP were caught a little cold by some of our younger boys,” Dravid pointed out. “They hadn’t seen them before, didn’t know what to expect. Now they will be better prepared, and I have told the boys that. But on current form, we have the momentum and are playing a little bit better than they are.”

Kaif held a similar view. “At Meerut, we didn’t know much about some of their players, like (Manish) Pandey. Now we have had an opportunity to watch them in a match situation and have seen videos,” he said.

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