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WT20: Wankhede track will not be totally batsmen-friendly

The Wankhede Stadium track being prepared for the ICC World T20 semi final clash between India and the West Indies is unlikely to favour the batsmen to the same extent as it did in the earlier matches here, it has been learnt.

Wankhede Stadium. Pic/Atul Kamble
Wankhede Stadium. Pic/Atul Kamble

"There's an even coating of grass to bind the wicket, but the track would be slower than in earlier games. But it will still be a good T20 wicket," informed sources said here today ahead of the March 31 clash which is to be witnessed by a packed capacity crowd of 33,000 spectators.

The heat in Mumbai has been on the higher side over the last few days with mercury touching the mid-30s, and this factor too is expected to affect the way the track will behave, the sources pointed out.

In the last international game played at this venue featuring India, South Africa whipped the hosts by a whopping margin of 214 runs to clinch the ODI series 3-2 on October 25, 2015. Midway through the match there was a heated exchange of words between Indian team director Ravi Shastri and the pitch curator Sudhir Naik after the Proteas had rattled up a mammoth score of 438 for 4 to which India replied with 224 all out to lose the match and the rubber.

Even during the league phase of the ongoing tournament, South Africa have run up scores in excess of 200, including setting the highest total thus far in the event of 229 for four which England overhauled in a memorable chase. Two nights earlier England had been flattened by the Chris Gayle blitz of 100 not out in 48 balls, studded with 11 towering sixes and five fours, that enabled the West Indies to easily overhaul the former's 20-over tally of 182 for 6 with ll balls to spare.

The swashbuckling West Indian opener looms as the biggest threat to India's entry into the World T20 summit clash for the third time in six editions. The centre wicket will be used for the women's (New Zealand v West Indies) and men's semi finals to be held one after the other, sources said, after the earlier matches had been played on wickets adjacent to it.

Meanwhile, India are still sweating over the fitness of injured batsman Yuvraj Singh who underwent a MRI scan yesterday of his left ankle that he twisted while setting off for a quick run in the team's do-or-die final league game against Australia on Sunday last at Mohali.

Manish Pandey arrived here yesterday as a cover for the injured batsman and was seen having a long session of batting at the nets along with Ajinkya Rahane, who has been warming the reserve bench so far, at the Brabourne Stadium.

It has been learnt that the scan report of Yuvraj's injured ankle showed no broken bone or tissue damage, but fluid retention could not be ruled out. Barring Rahane and Pandey, who is not yet part of the 15-strong squad, the other playing members of the team took a day off from practise.

The Indians have scheduled a training session tomorrow afternoon between 3 and 6 PM. The West Indians, who had an intense training session today at the Brabourne Stadium, are to have another session tomorrow morning.

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