Chinnaswamy pitch goes 'dry'

Chinnaswamy pitch goes 'dry'

A venue where once even totals in the vicinity of 200 looked inadequate now seems to have changed this IPL season

Chinnaswamy pitch goes 'dry'
The pitch at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here is known as batsmen’s paradise and bowlers’ graveyard.

Last season alone five totals of 200 or more were scored while targets in the range between 186 and 192 were chased down with little fuss. Something, however, seems to have changed this season with teams struggling to post big totals and chasing small targets despite the outfield becoming a lot faster after it was relaid last year.

In their first match here, Royal Challengers Bangalore successfully defended their modest total of 157 for their only win so far in the tournament while Mumbai Indians were made to sweat as they chased another small total (142) at a venue where once even totals in the vicinity of 200 looked inadequate.

As RCB’s batting and fielding coach Trent Woodhill pointed out on Saturday, it’s of course a too small a sample size to draw any conclusion as yet but given how the Test match between India and Australia played out here in early March and the four innings in this IPL so far, there seems to be a change in the behaviour of the surface.

“Obviously they weren’t massive totals in these two matches, so some poor innings from both sides,” remarked Woodhill. “With regard to the 200-run totals that we normally associate the Chinnaswamy track with, I think we’ve had solid batting pitches without the exceptional ones that we’re used to. It is a challenge but the way we are as a batting unit, we assess quickly but we also enjoy the pitch that we play on.”

There appears to be a conscious effort from the KSCA to turn the pitch into something that offers a good contest between bat and ball rather than make it the shirtfront that it has been for a while now.

Without going to the extent of relaying the surface, the authorities here have reduced the profile of the soil by seven per cent (in other words, reduced the thickness of clay) in an effort to enhance the bounce off the surface. But given the hot conditions, the pitch, sources said, is breaking down faster and the cracks are opening up quicker than expected. That’s what happened during the last Test match that led to variable bounce.

Coupled with the slowness of the surface, the uneven bounce has made shotmaking a difficult proposition, resulting in smaller totals this IPL. While a KSCA official maintained it would take some time for the pitch to settle down, he felt that the pitches prepared for this IPL have been good enough for teams score anywhere between 165-175, making the chase interesting.