Assam miffed by 'dangerous wicket' in Pune
Assam coach Sanath Kumar has slammed the Pune pitch for their ongoing Ranji Trophy game at the Gahunje stadium against Maharashtra, calling it "very dangerous." He also confirmed Assam were contemplating lodging an official complaint at the end of the match.
"Definitely it was a dangerous wicket, at least till lunch," Sanath told ESPNcricinfo. "Even after lunch a couple of balls did [something] but it was not as bad as it was till lunch. Till lunch I was literally worried that some of my players might get a real knock."
"I was struggling to watch the game," Sanath said. "I really cannot understand why they play on this sort of wicket. So many balls went so dangerously close to the face, flying all over. They had a short leg, leg slip, backward short leg, so imagine [how the pitch would have behaved]. That's what I am thinking [about lodging a complaint]."
However, Pandurang Salgaonkar, the curator at Gahunje, denied Assam's contention, saying the pitch was "not at all dangerous." "The wicket was absolutely good, but it was a grassy wicket," he told ESPNcricinfo.
KB Arun Karthik, who spent the most time in the middle to score an unbeaten century, said he informed the umpires that the batsmen were at risk of getting hurt, but they didn't take the players off the field.
Assam had been put in to bat after the first day was rained out and while they went to stumps at a fairly healthy 223 for 4, Arun Karthik said it had been a struggle throughout the day. Their top-three batsmen fell inside six overs to the seam-bowling pair of Samad Fallah and Anupam Sanklecha, but Arun Karthik and Amit Verma steadied things with a 75-run stand. After Verma's departure, Arun Karthik and captain Gokul Sharma, who remained unbeaten on 59 put on 130 runs.
"The pitch was damp today, but they started it regardless," Arun Karthik said. "The umpires had a look, but they said there was no other go but to play.
"The wicket was damp and there was quite a bit of grass as well, so there was uneven bounce and the ball kept cutting off the pitch. Some balls hit me on the glove, some on the elbow and some others on the thigh pad.
"A particular ball stopped and bounced over my head, and went on the bounce to the keeper. It was obvious for everyone to see [that the pitch was behaving alarmingly]," Arun Karthik said. "I told them [the umpires] we were at a serious risk of getting hurt. The umpires said, 'we will look at it after sometime.' They didn't take us off the field."
Arun Karthik said there were only a few strokes, such as the flick and the backfoot punch, that could be played on the surface. "There was no chance of playing a cover drive as the ball was bouncing off a length. Even while leaving the ball you will have to be positive on a wicket like this."
Pune is one of the six centres that have been accorded Test status recently. The surface comes under scrutiny - despite allowance being made for the rain the city has received recently - especially because it was made a standby venue for India's fourth Test against South Africa in the event of Delhi not securing the necessary approvals in time. Had the Test match been played at this venue, the Maharashtra-Assam game, it is understood, would have been shifted to Poona Club.
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo