Friday, March 17, 2006

Wankhede Wonders

This is, supposedly, the pitch report:

"Sudhir Naik, the curator, has promised a firm strip, with pace and bounce early on and then assistance for the spinners. That's what most curators say about most pitches before most Tests, but this one might live up to that promise - on the eve of the match, there is still a sprinkling of grass, and the high red-clay content here ensures reasonable bounce too."

Well, if all of that is true, then we're in for good cricket, though I'm not sure that the grass will survive. In any case, I'm pretty sure that we will not have a repeat of the last Mumbai test, which rather disappointingly, was over in less than three days. The Wankhede brings something else to the picture: a lively, knowledgeable crowd. As a Delhi-ite, I'm loath to say anything positive about Mumbai when it comes to cricket, but you've got to hand this one to Mumbaikars. They know their cricket, they don't doze off during tight sessions, and can pump up some serious noise when India bats. The archetypal Indian cricketing moments of dashing, wristy batsmen flogging visiting bowling attacks or spinners working late into the evening gloom, inducing edges snapped up by eager close-in men, are framed well at the Wankhede. Its a stadium with a rich history, and one of my cricketing ambitions (the non-playing ones) is to watch a test there someday. My travels to India haven't allowed for such a trip yet. But I'm optimistic, and I won't be shy to tell the Mumbaikars around me that I much, much prefer their ground to Delhi's Ferozeshah Kotla.

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