New Zealand v India, 2nd Test, Napier March 25, 2009

Napier groundsman denies fungus problem

Cricinfo staff

New Zealand are 0-1 down in the series and their coach Andy Moles hoped the Napier pitch would nip around for a couple of days so that it would bring their seamers into the game. However the groundsman at McLean Park, Phil Stoyanoff, has promised a typical Napier pitch, one on which lots of runs are scored.

"There is always a little bit in it in the first session, and then it pans out to be an absolute belter, and has good consistent bounce," Stoyanoff said. "Lot of runs get scored here."

There were also reports of a fungal infection on the pitch, which had forced the curators to move two to three feet sideways, so that the new track included half the original pitch and half of the adjacent one, a mix of the pitches used for the Test against West Indies in December and the recent ODI against India. Stoyanoff, however, denied the reports.

"Any of this mythical talk about slime outbreak on the wicket, or algae or the fungal attack, is a lot of rubbish," Stoyanoff said. "I actually started preparing this wicket, and that was the old West Indies track, I top-dressed this a month prior to this. And I just didn't get quite the good grass that I wanted. So I moved over to the track on the right."

Daniel Vettori, the New Zealand captain, who has also been asking for pitches that will assist his pace bowlers, said that the surface was likely to behave like a normal Napier track. "Aesthetically it's not quite as pretty as it normally is, and doesn't have that consistency of grass cover," Vettori said. "But talking to Phil, he is pretty comfortable and thinks it will be pretty traditional Napier track."

New Zealand are likely to play two spinners in the second Test, which starts on Thursday, as they did against West Indies. But they would have wanted a different kind of pitch. "I think we know what to expect when we come to Napier," Vettori said. "We have probably got to move away from what we want, and actually just perform on whatever we get. We know we can perform a little better on a wicket that has got a little bit in it, but we have got to make sure we do well on this particular wicket."