India v Australia 2003-04 November 1, 2004

Mumbai pitch comes in for scrutiny

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Pitch or no pitch, Sachin Tendulkar is happy to be back home in Mumbai © AFP

After the crushing loss to Australia at Nagpur, much of the attention has turned to the pitch in Mumbai. The strip at the Wankhede Stadium has evoked mixed reaction from the various people who have examined it closely.

MS Rao, the curator in charge of the ground, said: "I will describe it as a good batting wicket," to The Indian Express newspaper. "We have meticulously watered and rolled it. It will also have bounce and turn as the match progresses." He is also supposed to have called it a "typical" Indian pitch.

Conversely, Paras Mhambrey, the former India medium-pacer and Mumbai captain, told Mid Day that this was anything but a typical Mumbai pitch. "It is not a typical Wankhede wicket. If this wicket would have been given in Nagpur, which I feel they should have as one has the right to capitalise on home advantage, the series could have been 1-1 and then this match the decider."

Mhambrey recalled a time when he had played an Irani Trophy match on a similar pitch, and said the ball gave the spinners plenty of assistance in that case. "Normally there is something in it [the pitch] for the seamers as well, but this looks a completely different track and the spinners will come into play early."

Mhambrey drew attention to the reddish appearance of the pitch. "You can make out the difference between the main pitch and the practice wickets," he said.

Either way, with an unassailable 2-0 lead with one match to play, the Australians have the edge.