New Zealand v India, 2nd Test, Napier March 23, 2009

Fungus forces Napier pitch to be moved

Cricinfo staff

A fungus growth has forced curators at McLean Park to shift the pitch for the second Test between New Zealand and India so as to keep the affected areas outside the playing zone.

Andy Moles, the New Zealand coach who wanted a seaming pitch for the Test after India took the series lead in Hamilton, said the surface had been moved two to three feet so that it now included half the original pitch and half of the adjacent one which was used for the one-day game between the two sides earlier this month.

The pitch was reseeded after the Test against West Indies in December last year and the fungus affected the grass growth.

Blair Furlong, the Central Districts chief executive, said the grass was patchy on the old pitch and the new surface would have an even spread. "It will be a good pitch, it will do something at the start and then flatten out," Furlong was quoted as saying to the Dominion Post. "It certainly won't be a greentop, we don't want a two-day Test." New Zealand Cricket also released a statement on the pitch which it expected to be in "top playing condition". "The new strip appears hard and flat, with affected areas well outside the playing zone," the board said. "The strip has been extensively prepared over the past 10 days and is in excellent condition."

Moles said while the groundsman was confident the pitch would play well. "We need a typical New Zealand wicket where it nips for about a couple of days so it brings our seamers into the game against their batting attack which is used to the ball being true and turning a bit," Moles said.

Moles said the best way to nullify the Indian batsmen was to exploit sideways movement against them. "If the wicket is very dry it can turn a lot, which is obviously something we don't want to experience down there."