Indians thwarted by wet practice pitches

Updated: January 30, 2012, 11:38 AM IST
Indians thwarted by wet practice pitches

Sydney: Desperate to redeem pride in the shorter formats after being embarrassed in the Test series, the Indian team was left frustrated on Monday by wet practice pitches at the ANZ Stadium - the venue of the first Twenty20 international against Australia on Wednesday.

The Indians, who were outplayed 0-4 in the just-concluded Test series, were out at the venue early - the giant stadium which was built for the 2000 Sydney Olympics - and indulged in their routine round of football a bit longer in the hope that the harsh sun would dry out the wet practice pitches.

As luck would have it, however, the sun was of no use and the practice turf remained wet, leaving the players with no choice but to knock the throwdowns around, without bothering to put on pads or gloves.

"It's been very wet in Sydney. It rained last week and since the practice pitches are round in the corner and there is no proper sunlight [because of the extended roof of the stadium], they are damp," said curator Les Burdett. "Hopefully, it would be better tomorrow as it is drying."

The Indians, though, are taking no chances and have decided to train at the Sydney Cricket Ground on the eve of the match on Tuesday.

India's one-day batting star Suresh Raina appeared nonchalant and said the players already have had three days of solid nets in Adelaide while the final Test was on last week.

"We didn't have proper nets but we had a good fielding session in the morning. Anyway, the solid practice sessions at Adelaide Oval have been very helpful," he said.

The one-day squad, which arrived in Adelaide on January 25, used the last three days of the Test to tune up for the Twenty20 and ODIs, which will be played over the next five weeks.

The stadium has been the choice of New South Wales cricket administration because of its size. It can accommodate over 80,000 people, while the SCG couldn't have got more than 25,000. Thus, economics, by way of more gate money, has been the reason for the choice of this stadium, which is far away from the city. As many as 60,000 spectators are expected to watch the opening Twenty20 international.

It's a drop-in pitch in the middle of a ground which is largely used for rugby matches. But Burdett has little doubt that the pitch will not be a hindrance and big scores would be produced on Wednesday.

"We had a score of 213 in one of the Twenty20 domestic games. The straight and square boundaries are 70 metres, though behind the keeper obviously is far less," he said.

"It's a rugby league ground but there are other sports and contests. Like the drop-in pitches you have in Adelaide, MCG, it's the way of times in Australia. It's more to use the facility and produce pitches off the field and bring them in. It's nothing untoward, certainly nothing to be afraid of. Drop-in pitches are getting better and better."

Because of persistent rain, a few areas of the ground appear bumpy and certainly wet. Burdett, though, believed they would be in order come Wednesday.

"We are two days away from the actual match but the pitch is good and dry and even if the game is played tomorrow, it should be ready."

Burdett said among the Indian team, coach Duncan Fletcher had enquired about the stadium, the pitch and how it tends to behave.

"We just talked. He had a close look and was pleased with (the pitch)," he said.

First Published: January 30, 2012, 11:38 AM IST

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