India’s fifth ODI against New Zealand scheduled to be held in Visakhapatnam on October 29 might be shifted to an alternate venue due to concerns over the pitch.
The problems first surfaced in the Ranji game between Assam and Rajasthan held on October 13 at Vizag that got over inside three days. The third day saw all the mayhem, as 17 wickets fell on an up-and-down pitch, with the ball occasionally shooting through as low as ankle high, according to Assam’s coach Sunil Joshi. A pitch inspection is planned for Wednesday and if the surface is proved unfit, it would be shifted out.
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The secretary Andhra Cricket Association G Gangaraju accepted that there were problems as it was a newly re-laid track, and blamed the rains for the inadequate preparation.
“The pitch was re-laid four months back but because of the rains they couldn’t prepare it properly. The BCCI would be sending a curator/inspector, likely on Wednesday, for inspection and he will decide if the pitch is good enough to host the fifth ODI,” Gangaraju told The Indian Express.
MV Sridhar, general manager cricket operations of the BCCI, will choose a curator to be sent for inspection. The Assam coach Joshi, former Karnataka and India player, had foreseen the troubles on the eve of the game. When he walked on to the center square, he found the whole area “damp”.
“They were obviously preparing for the ODI at the end of the month, but our match was hit because of that. Because of the heavy watering, the pitch sort of held up for the first two days and things got ugly on the third day, as the pitch threw up variable bounce,” Joshi told this paper.
“The ball was going through at ankle height some times. 17 wickets fell on third day, and 11 of them were lbw. You get the idea,” Joshi said. “The pitch we played on was certainly not good enough for game. The ODI pitch was in the same square, the one adjacent to where we played and I would be surprised if it turns out any better.”
The BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke didn’t have the full details but there won’t be a problem in finding an alternate venue as the board has listed stand-by options in case of any eventuality. “I’m not aware of the development. But we have many venues as stand-bys. We put at least five-six venues in the stand-by list at the planning stage. So it won’t be a problem at all,” Shirke said.
All the problems exploded on the third morning after two relatively calmer days. Rajasthan had ended the second day on 208 for 3 but were shot out for 272, seven wickets falling for 64. The first three were lbw victims, incidentally. Assam were then blown away in 20.2 overs for just 69. The balls started to keep low, and six batsmen were either bowled or trapped in front.
The variable bounce raised worries of not just dismissals but injury problems as well. The opener Pallavkumar Das lasted just 12 balls but was hit on the body by bouncers that didn’t quite rise as much as he anticipated. The worst affected, though, was the No 6. batsman Abu Nechim who was hit on the helmet, trying to duck. The ball never rose as much as he thought, and ended up getting hit just above the stumps. “I ducked and ducked but the ball never climbed, and I think I must have been barely just above stumps high.”
He played another ball but had to retire out. He came back at the end again, was unbeaten on 11 when Assam were bowled out. Nechim had to be taken to a hospital for precautionary scans. “I had some headaches and pains, but luckily I am all right now.”
Joshi was upset enough to tweet at the end of the match. “This venue is supposed to hold test match I doubt about the conditions here, the pitch it is so unpredictable like a weather#kiwis ???”
A tweet that was posted just before that read: “17wkts fallen today 11 lbw’s from morning 9:30am to 1:45pm match over,Ind ODI venue here???????”
As it turns out there might not be an ODI at the end of the month.
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