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."