Mohali Test: Curator says track not pace-friendly, will benefit all players

Updated: Nov 24, 2016, 10:28 IST | Ajit Bezbaruah |

PCA Stadium curator Daljit Singh rules out pace-friendly track for Saturday's third India vs England Test, but pitch will not displease batters and bowlers

Daljit Singh
Daljit Singh

It is no secret that the India skipper Virat Kohli is looking for spinner-friendly tracks in this five-match Test series against England. Kohli showed his displeasure when he saw a slight green cover on the Rajkot track and after battling for a draw, playing second-best to England for most part of the Test, said: "I was quite surprised to see so much of grass on it to be honest; shouldn't have been the case."

After Kohli's Rajkot jibe, Vizag went along expected lines and the Indian spinners wrapped up the Test with plenty to spare on the final day. Now, the focus is on the Mohali track and how it will behave when the third Test gets underway this Saturday. Traditionally, Mohali has always had something for the quicks, especially on the first two days before the spinners come into the picture.

Police and spectators watch the action during Day Three of the Second Test between India and England at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on March 11, 2006. Pics/Getty Images
Police and spectators watch the action during Day Three of the Second Test between India and England at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on March 11, 2006. Pics/Getty Images

Munaf Patel, Irfan Pathan, Andrew Flintoff, Matthew Hoggard, Steve Harmison, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar are some pacemen and spinners who have reaped rich rewards in past India vs England Tests at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium. With so much emphasis these days on playing to the strength of the home side it won't be surprising if the track starts helping the spinners — India's strength of course — much before than expected. Who better to ask than curator Daljit Singh whose name in synonymous with the Mohali track.

"This is a 23-year-old pitch so you can't expect it to behave the same way as it did 15-20 years ago. The bounce and carry that was there in the beginning will definitely not be there. Its top surface has undergone considerable changes in all these years although you can't call it major changes," Daljit told mid-day over phone from Mohali yesterday.
So will spin come into play from Day One? "There is still a lot of time before the first ball is bowled in the third Test so I can't comment now. All I can say is that we are making a sporting track with something for everybody— batsmen, fast bowlers and spinners," added the curator who played 87 first-class matches for Bihar, Delhi and Services from 1961 to 1979.

"No instructions of any kind have come to me from anywhere," stressed Daljit as soon as he was asked about any particular pitch request. England don't have many happy memories of Mohali. They lost in 2001-02 and in 2005-06 while the 2008-09 Test was drawn. Skipper Alastair Cook, James Anderson and Stuart Broad figured in the 2008-09 Test whereas India leggie Amit Mishra was part of the India XI.

England's last three Tests in Mohali

December 3-6, 2001
England 238 (Marcus Trescothick 66, Nasser Hussain 85; Harbhajan Singh 5-51, Anil Kumble 2-52, Tinu Yohannan 2-75) & 235 (Graham Thorpe 62, Marcus Trescothick 46; Anil Kumble 6-81, Harbhajan Singh 2-59) lost to India 469 (Deep Dasgupta 100, Rahul Dravid 86, Sachin Tendulkar 88; Richard Dawson 4-134, Matthew Hoggard 3-98) and 5-0 by 10 wkts

India's Munaf Patel appeals against England's Liam Plunkett at Mohali in 2006
India's Munaf Patel appeals against England's Liam Plunkett at Mohali in 2006

March 9-13, 2006
England 300 (Andrew Flintoff 70, Kevin Pietersen 64, Geraint Jones 52; Anil Kumble 5/76, Munaf Patel 3/72, Irfan Pathan 2/71) & 181 (Ian Bell 57, Andrew Flintoff 51; Munaf Patel 4/25, Anil Kumble 4/70) lost to India 338 (Rahul Dravid 95, Irfan Pathan 52; Andrew Flintoff 4/96, Matthew Hoggard 2/55, Steve Harmison 2/60) & 144/1 (Virender Sehwag 76*, Rahul Dravid 42*) by 9 wkts

December 19-23, 2008
India 453 (Gautam Gambhir 179, Rahul Dravid 136; Andrew Flintoff 3/54, Graeme Swann 3/122, Monty Panesar 2/89) & 251/7 decl (Gautam Gambhir 97, Yuvraj Singh 86; Monty Panesar 1/44, Graeme Swann 1/49, Stuart Broad 1/50, James Anderson 1/51) drew with England 302 (Kevin Pietersen 144, Andrew Flintoff 62, Alastair Cook 50; Harbhajan Singh 4/68, Zaheer Khan 3/76, Amit Mishra 2/75) & 64/1

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