Afro-Asia Cup, 2007 June 2, 2007

Bouncy pitches expected in Bangalore

Cricinfo staff

Zaheer Khan will enjoy a pitch with extra bounce © AFP

Bangalore's matches in the Afro-Asia Cup will be played on a relaid pitch and the fast bowlers can look forward to some assistance say the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA).

The host association have roped in the services of curators Blair Christiansen and Bede O'Connell, from the New Zealand Turf Institute, to oversee the preparation of the two pitches for the Twenty20 games and the first ODI between Africa and Asia.

Blair told The Times of India that they have used a road roller on the pitches to make the surface harder and more compressed and, so long as the rain doesn't intervene, said he was hopeful of a true surface. The back-to-back Twenty20 matches (the women followed by the men) on June 5 will be played on one surface, while the other pitch will be used for the full one-dayer the next day.

"I am a little nervous," Blair said, "but hopeful that it will be a bouncy wicket since it has better properties that strengthens the pitch."

Brijesh Patel, the former Test player, now secretary of the KSCA, said that this exercise was part of the association's initiative to improve the quality of pitches across the state, with the team from New Zealand passing on their expertise to curators from all districts.

"The experts guided the groundsmen through every stage of relaying the wicket," Patel told PTI. "This is completely a KSCA's initiative and had nothing to do with the hosting of the Afro Asia Cup."

Despite several Asian stars pulling out, including Rahul Dravid and Muttiah Muralitharan, Patel was optimistic of a strong turn-out, and said that the ticket sales were picking up.