Pune: The 22-yard strip at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium takes centre stage, as both Mumbai and Saurashtra teams had their first look at the wicket ahead of their Ranji Trophy final to be played here from tomorrow. The pitch, as is the case before any crucial game, is the talking point ahead of this domestic title decider. But it’s the recent history of this wicket that makes the scenario more interesting. Following three no-results in the Ranji Trophy here this season, Maharashtra scored an outright win over Karnataka, knocking the latter out of the event in the process, in a relatively low-scoring game.
Mumbai pacer Shardul Thakur
The next big game here was just a couple of weeks back, where India played Sri Lanka in a T20 international. The pitch, with a lot of live grass, assisted the seamers a lot, had a spongy bounce, as the Indians could barely cross the 100-run mark before being bowled out. Even Sri Lanka’s part-time seamers had a field day, prompting Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to later describe the wicket as a “bit English”.
With just two days to go to the Ranji Trophy final of the season, the pitch wore a very similar look to the one that was prepared for the India-Sri Lanka game. “It looks a sporting wicket. There seems to be something in it for everybody,” said Mumbai coach Chandrakant Pandit, following a brief chat with curator Pandurang Salgaokar.
By the look of it, there is a bit more grass on the pitch than most standard Indian ones. Of course, nobody can confirm if some of it might be shaved off. And that’s where the toss could become quite crucial. “It has a green look to it. I hope the toss doesn’t become a decisive factor for such a big game,” hoped Saurashtra coach Sitanshu Kotak. Well, it certainly did for the T20 game not too many days back!