Batsmen run riot on lifeless pitches

Khurram Habib

New Delhi, Nov. 13 -- After the hype and glitz of the first round in the Ranji Trophy, thanks to the presence of India stars in various teams, it is back to the grind for the domestic players.

Like many other venues, proof of this came at the Ferozshah Kotla as well. On Sunday, Delhi pacemen as well as skipper Shikhar Dhawan wore a weary look, unhappy the slow wicket had made them toil against an ordinary Odisha.

Despite their anguish, the Kotla wicket was one of only three pitches out of the 12 used in this round that produced a result. There were 10 totals of over 500 and games like Maharashtra-UP, TN-Karnataka and Gujarat-Saurashtra did not see even two completed innings.

The Maharashtra-UP match in Pune saw over 1400 runs scored for the loss of 13 wickets. The Gujarat-Saurashtra tie saw over 1300 runs for 12 wickets.

Against this, five games produced results in the first round last week with just three totals of over 500.

Pitch monitoring

The BCCI pitch and grounds committee chairman, Daljit Singh, was present at the Kotla on Sunday.

He told HT, "The BCCI is trying to maintain a standard. It has devised a form where certain guidelines are mentioned. According to it, the track should help seamers and strokeplay on Day One and should be good for batting on the second day. It should help spinners on the last day. Sometimes, the wicket is over-prepared ahead of big matches. Too much of a heavy roller makes it a belter."

Former players like Madan Lal are not too optimistic that the BCCI will set things right. "This has been going on for years. We keep hearing there should be a standard, but nothing has come out of it. We also played on belters and there has only been talk."

Close analysis

Former speedster Javagal Srinath says, "It is tough to prepare a balanced wicket. But I'd also want to know the bowlers who played this round. Bowling on these wickets is their real test."

Former all-rounder Manoj Prabhakar lamented that the art of bowling was missing. "We also bowled on these tracks and picked up wickets."

A BCCI official, however, says it is not tough to prepare balanced wickets. "You saw Ghaziabad (UP), Mohali (Punjab), the one in Assam and even Lahli (Haryana). Some associations can do it. Why can't others?"

On Monday, Ravindra Jadeja, a limited-overs specialist axed from the India side, became only the fifth batsman in the history of Indian first-class cricket to score two triple tons. This round featured as many as 34 triple-figure knocks.

Delhi win

Pawan Suyal took three wickets on Monday morning (5/93 in the innings) and Shikhar Dhawan smashed 56* as Delhi beat Odisha by 10 wickets to earn bonus point.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.