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India v South Africa, 2nd Test, Ahmedabad
Sanjay Manjrekar: 'Injuries won't affect India'
April 2, 2008
Batsmen could once again have a field day on a pitch that looks to be a batting paradise
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Jacques Kallis will be keen to make amends after missing out in the first Test © AFP
Sanjay Manjrekar: The second Test between India and South Africa gets underway in Ahmedabad tomorrow and former India international Dhiraj Parsana, who used to be a good left-arm spinner and who is the chief curator in Ahmedabad, finds himself under pressure. The spotlight is on him because the spotlight is on the pitch, especially after what we saw in Chennai.

We have seen a trend over the last few years where India has been generally providing fair pitches to the opposition. There was a time in the 1990s when pitches in India used to be prepared for the spinners but after that the trend has been to provide fair pitches. But I think that approach needs a re-look because fair pitches generally mean flat pitches and we saw what kind of cricket that provided [in Chennai] especially in the Indian summers. Parsana will have to promise the media and the Indian viewers that there will be something to look forward to in this Test and, crucially, he will want to tell us that there will be a result in this Test.

There is something that even the curators can't do with the pitches and that is change its basic nature. The only thing he can do is work a bit on the surface, in terms of the amount of watering and the amount of mowing that he does and that is where he needs the support of the local associations. The local associations of most of the states in India are not led by former cricketers who feel strongly about such matters - about having good cricket and results. They are not really looking at the cricketing aspect of any match and the directive to the curator would be to prepare a good pitch that lasts for five days and doesn't create any controversy. So unless Parsana decides to be courageous and leave a bit of grass on the surface and do plenty of watering this evening, which might give the bowlers some kind of help on the first morning, I can see this pitch being a pretty good batting pitch on which South Africa will not be troubled by the Indian bowling attack. The only thing that can happen is that Ahmedabad will have a little more bounce than Chennai. I was surprised by the lack of bounce in Chennai as over the years it has generally given a bit more bounce as compared to the other Indian pitches.

As far as India is concerned, [they have] a few injury worries before the start of the Test. [However] in these conditions, even if India lose a few of their important players, I think there is enough talent and ability on the bench for those players to be replaced adequately. This is another problem when you are playing in such conditions: one or two absentees from your regular line-up won't really affect the contest too much which also makes it a little predictable.

Nothing much to look forward to in this Test. I hope like Virender Sehwag in Chennai, there will be some individual performances here that will be remembered after the outcome of the Test. It doesn't seem likely that there will be a result, but if there is a one that would be great because the next Test in Kanpur doesn't promise much.

Jacques Kallis missed out in the first Test and he is far too good a batsman to miss out again. So we could witness a Kallis show in Ahmedabad after the Sehwag show in Chennai.

Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar is a cricket commentator and presenter on TV. @sanjaymanjrekar

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Posted by Premanand on (April 3, 2008, 1:58 GMT)

It's a shame that pitches in India offer almost nothing to the bowlers, despite promises to the contrary by the BCCI. No wonder matches involving India produce the most draws in the last few years. However, if the previous match played at the Sardar Patel Stadium (against Sri Lanka in Dec. 2005) is anything to go by, Harbhajan Singh (10/141) and Anil Kumble (7/176) may enjoy bowling here. South Africa were routed by Javagal Srinath on a crumbling pitch in 1996. Let's hope we get some good cricket and more importantly, a result-oriented pitch. Here's wishing both teams the very best!

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