India v Australia, 1st Test, Chennai February 27, 2013

Selective watering the secret to 'ugly' pitch

ESPNcricinfo staff

The curator at the MA Chidambaram stadium has expressed satisfaction with the way the pitch for the Chennai Test, which was termed "ugly", behaved over the duration of the Test. The pitch took turn from the first day, but held together till the fifth.

"I like to see a result in Test cricket, and the fact that the game went five days says to me that it's a pretty good Test match wicket," K Parthasarathy, the curator, told the Indian Express.

"We started by making the entire pitch firm. After that we watered it selectively. The areas on either side of the stumps were kept dry, and so turned out to be loose. The line of the stumps was watered and rolled, so it stayed firm through the Test."

Australia lost all their wickets in the Test to the spinners, with R Ashwin inflicting maximum damage. "Australia need Raffa Nadal here in Chennai on the clay," Shane Warne had tweeted with a picture of the third-day pitch. But James Pattinson, with his extra pace, also managed a five-wicket haul in the first innings. Both the captains also said the pitch played better than expected.

"If I had kept the entire pitch dry, people would have called it under-prepared. But now nobody is complaining," the curator said.

Parthasarathy had used the method of selective watering back in 1998 when Australia lost to India by 179 runs. Warne, who frequently bowled round-the-wicket line during that series, struggled to make an impact as Sachin Tendulkar took the attack to him.

"I kept the square patches outside the leg stump, on either side of the wicket, really hard. It was difficult to get turn from that part as there would be no rough there."

"After that game, Warne came to me and asked why he wasn't getting the turn and others were. I told him it was because of his dodgy shoulder, that was to be operated later in the series."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Harmon on March 1, 2013, 18:08 GMT

    @gpm86: Ref ... "Whilst this pitch turned out better than expected thats not what aussies generally are sayin."...

    What are you talking about? Look at Meety and others. They are saying that they had thought the wicket would hold well for 5 days cos it looked pretty firm and so picked 4 bowlers and only 1 spinner whilst they had no idea it would not behave that way as time would progress. It seems that the Aussie fans themselves are confused whether the wicket held up of not or whether it was good for batting or for spinners or for fast bowlers and are making so much noise just to vent out their frustration and have to latch on to any tid bit to come up with a modicum of an argument.

  • Harmon on March 1, 2013, 17:43 GMT

    @Meety: The wicket was a fake? That is ridiculous!!!

    The wicket was the same for both the sides. The wicket had ample runs. The wicket did not break down too much even on Day 4 and 5. Even your 10th wicket partnership got you so many runs. How come? You have failed to provide a single objective objection to the nature of the wicket and now cling to a statement by cherry picking portions off it. Who is blinkered then? You or me?

    Don't blame us if your REASONABLE ASSUMPTIONS were ill-founded. It is your incompetence. Don't tell us you took 4 seamers cos it was firm. You had NO spinner to begin with. The pitch was indeed firm and held up well. Is firmness a problem for you now? Oh come on ... it seems you have problem with any wicket on which Aus can't win.

  • Harmon on March 1, 2013, 15:47 GMT

    @Meety: You are admitting now that no law was broken by the selective watering of the wicket. Why are you then making so much noise about something that was perfectly within the laws? Whether it was obscure or far-fetched or convoluted should not matter as long as it broke no law. If no law was broken then why so much fuss? No law says that the wicket should be watered evenly. In fact, some common sense will tell you that too. The curator did not want a dull wicket. He wanted a proper wicket thus he 1st made a firm wicket that was full of runs, helped spinners yet did not break down too much, allowed fast bowlers to do well provided they worked hard. Sounds like an IDEAL test wicket to me. You got the answer? Selective watering to make it an IDEAL wicket. Take that.

    2) How is that sneaky? You think the curator should tweet or blog about how he made the wicket? It is the prob of Aussies if they can't read it or can't look at it in detail.

  • Aman on March 1, 2013, 11:28 GMT

    I cant undersatnd whats this fuss about the pitch, i think it was hell of a test match which evreyone enjoyed in India and in Australia, anyone who says India delibrately prepare pitches to suit their spinners and hence the pitches are not sporting, are all nuts, honestly this Aus team is no where near the calibre of Steve Waugh's team who toured India in 2004, any pitch which lasts for 5 days and on which a genuine fast bowler takes 5 wickets or on which a Potugese Debutant scores 2 half centuries (who in my undersatnding would have little knowledge of playing spin back home) is a pefectly sporting wicket, so what if it looked on TV a French open tennis court, it played like a test wicket should do for 5 days, Australia lost this match not becuase of the pitch but because of non application of their batsmen other than Clarke and Henriques, it could have been thriller of a match if that poor Cowan did not drop that dolly from Kumar when India was just 30 odd runs ahead,

  • Andrew on March 1, 2013, 11:05 GMT

    @Jayaraman Lalgudi - e;sewhere I have preaised Dhoni's knock. I am more of a Dhoni fan than MOST Indians. I have seen him often derided as a "lucky" captain & other things. IMO - if Dhoni was stop playing International cricket today, India would instantly freefall down the rankings, he has played many a lone hand in ODIs of late, & the 1st Test was finally reward at Test level. I have said NUMEROUS times on this & other articles, that India were the better team & deserved to win. I have no complaints about umpire's calls - the worst went Oz's way, whilst most of the line ball calls went India's way but nothing drastic. The pitch itself - I have no problem with. What no Indian fan is understanding - is that there is something very wrong with deliberately waterering sections of a pitch & not others - particularly when there is no grass left on the pitch in the first place. A basic premise is that a pitch is evenly treated, whether that is by shaving all grass or whatever. Not here!

  • Dummy4 on March 1, 2013, 10:10 GMT

    Meety, one thing is clear that both teamsplayed on the same pitch. The way you write, one gets the feeling that the Aussies were asked to play on a seperate pitch.

    Clearly, the class of Dhoni did it all.

  • Andrew on March 1, 2013, 9:33 GMT

    So let me see, should I take the word of some fans who have never played at elite level, or should I take the word of Bishan Bedi when he stats -

    "In Australia, you don't doctor those wickets," Bedi told AAP. "Every wicket in Australia has a character to it. "They have their own respective characters and those characters are never destroyed. It's the same in England." Bedi said it was natural for Indian pitches to favour spin on days four and five of a Test match. "But if it turns on the first session of the first day, somewhere along the line the ICC might have to step in. But will they?" he said. "I wasn't embarrassed. I was annoyed. "It's taking home advantage to another extreme. It's not quite cricket. "Cricket is supposed to be a game of integrity." == == ==

    "Cricket is supposed to be a game of integrity." - that my Indian friends, is why I have a problem with selective watering - IMO it is dishonest. Hopefully this will lead to full disclosure in the future!

  • Dummy4 on March 1, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    Trapper 439. You are absolutely right,, The difference beteen the 2 sides was Dhoni. There is no point in making the pitch a scapegoat.

    Just like the WACA pitch is bouncy (not doctored), most of the Indian wickets are rank turners (not necessarily doctored).

    Just like Indians must learn to play on bouncy wickets, the Aussies should also learn to play on spinny tracks, if they are to be a number 1 side, England did just that

  • Dummy4 on March 1, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    @wellrounded87 "That being said i would like India to produce a pitch or two that offers something for fast bowlers. Otherwise they will forever be a team that's only good at home and can't handle the swinging ball" LOL

    How many spin friendly tracks have Aussies prepared while a team from the subcontinent is touring down under? Like someone already mentioned "you won't hear Indians complaining about the Gabba being bouncy and unfriendly, do you?"

    Just a while ago, England came here and played a series and won. Why? They had quality spinners who could use the spin friendly Indian pitches to their advantage, and skilled batsmen who could tackle Indian spinners.

    So stop whining about the pitches and work on producing quality spinners and batsmen who can survive & score on spin friendly conditions. When you achieve that, you can start dreaming about winning a test series in India again.

  • Graham on March 1, 2013, 7:06 GMT

    Im pretty sure no AUssie is blaming the pitch for loosing. India were the better side. We are just saying we dont like the cricket that pitches like this produce. When you purposely take a whole class of player out of the game it detracts from the spectacle of the game. Congratulations to India for winning but I suspect you could win on a standard indian pitch because they normally favour spinners anyway and you dont need to purpose build pitches. But unfortunately the BCCi and Dhoni dont have enough faith in there own ability to test this theory. It certainly would make a better spectacle.