Kolkata Knight Riders v Deccan Chargers, IPL, Kolkata April 20, 2008

Laxman blasts 'shocking' pitch

Cricinfo staff

VVS Laxman: "It was not a good pitch for any form of the game" © AFP

VVS Laxman has termed the Eden Gardens pitch on which his Deccan Chargers lost their IPL opener against the Kolkata Knight Riders "shocking" and said the power failure towards the end of the match contributed to the defeat as it affected the players' concentration.

"It was not a good pitch for any form of the game. It was a shocking wicket," said Laxman after Hyderabad were shot out for 110 on a track that provided a lot of assistance to both seamers and spinners. "In the Twenty20 format you expect high scores. Though the match became exciting in the end, it was tough for the batsmen to go for shots."

Ricky Ponting later revealed that the curator had apologised to both the teams at the end of the match. "It was a shocker for all of us," he said in a television interview, "but the curator apologised to both the teams later. Hopefully it will be a better surface when we're out here next."

After the first two days of the IPL was dominated by the bat, Eden Gardens provided a bowler-friendly surface. It has everything from extremely variable bounce - the first ball Laxman faced kept low while the third jumped viciously from a length to crash into his gloves - and big turn as Andrew Symonds found out when a Mohammad Hafeez delivery landed well outside off and spun past him down the leg side. Even local boy Sourav Ganguly struggled to come to terms with the pitch, getting hit on the chest from a length ball that took off.

Laxman felt that the nature of the Eden Gardens track was changing. "I played here in the Ranji Trophy and also a Test sometime back. The wicket was slow on both occasions. I think you are not getting the wicket we expect at Eden."

Laxman also complained about the floodlight failure as the match was heading towards a tight finish. Kolkata needed 22 from 20 with five wickets in hand when one of the light towers went off, holding play up for about half an hour. When play resumed, David Hussey guided Kolkata to victory with one over to spare. "The interruption definitely affected us. The momentum was towards us. And the bowlers were in great rhythm," Laxman said. "But having said that, I must say that the bowlers were in great rhythm when play resumed."

Hussey, whose unbeaten 38 fetched him the Man-of-the-Match award, played down the difficult nature of the track and admitted his side were helped by the interruption in play. "It was a good break for us," he said. "We got to collect our thoughts, have a drink and re-adjust our game plans and that probably worked in our favour."