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Batting track expected in Mohali

MS Dhoni and curator Daljit Singh inspect the Mohali pitch AFP

There are no match tickets available. There are no hotel rooms vacant for the thousands flocking to Chandigarh from all over the world. The premiers of both India and Pakistan will be there to watch their men contest the second semi-finals of the World Cup. Add to those certainties one other: the Mohali pitch is bound to be batsmen-friendly. If sources are to be believed, then the fast bowlers will be more effective than spinners. "It is a good batting wicket. I don't think it will turn much," a Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) official said.

History suggests that captains prefer to bat first on calling the coin right and both MS Dhoni and Shahid Afridi will do well to follow convention. It is better to bat first because the wicket tends to lose pace as the match goes on. But if there is heavy dew things could change. "A 280-plus total would be really difficult to chase," the source said. Over the last five years, in the nine matches played at the ground the 300-run mark has been breached only twice. Incidentally, on the first occasion, Pakistan successfully chased India's 321 in a day-night game, with Younis Khan's 117 overshadowing Sachin Tendulkar's 99.

In the past five years, seven out of the nine matches have been won by the side batting first. Also, there were seven day-night matches with five won by the side batting first and only two by the chasing side. Wednesday's semi-final would be the first match to be played under lights since November 2009 in Mohali.

Of the 137 wickets taken in those nine matches, fast bowlers accounted for 105, while the spinners claimed just 29. Even though the seamers have predominantly controlled affairs here, slow bowlers like Harbhajan Singh, who relies on bounce, have always got good purchase from the Mohali pitch. At the same time the hard clay in the pitch tends to make the ball skid rather than spin, so a spinner like Afridi would do well to push the ball rather than spin it.

Another talking point in the build-up to the match has been the dew. Over the last few days there has been heavy dew with the outfield being really wet till 10 pm. The curator will be taking measures like not watering the ground two days before the match and cutting the outfield really low but it would be difficult to eliminate the dew entirely. An essential factor for the dew to not spoil the evening would be the presence of the wind during the first half of the day. If it is windy during the day the dew will not be heavy, otherwise it will play affect team strategies.