The 2023 ODI World Cup final between India and Australia will be played on pitch No. 5 at the Narendra Modi Stadium, the surface that was used for the India-Pakistan fixture
India won that game in 73 overs, but it was played on October 14, when the weather was hot and dry. A little over a month later, there's an early winter nip in the air in Ahmedabad, the evenings are cooler, and there's a lot more dew. Pitch no. 5 has been watered, rolled, and watered. The curator believes it will retain a little more moisture now.
India's captain and coach, Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid, spent considerable time pitch side during India's optional nets on Friday evening. Australia arrived in Ahmedabad late Friday evening and had their first and only training session ahead of the final early on Saturday morning.
And when Australia's captain Pat Cummins
suited up for the pre-match press conference, the first question was about the 22 yards.
"Have you seen the wicket, Pat?"
"Yeah, just had a look."
"What did you make of it?"
"Again, I'm not a great pitch reader, but it looked pretty firm. They've only just watered it, so yeah, give it another 24 hours and have a look, but it looks like a pretty good wicket."
"Has it been used before?"
"Yes, I think Pakistan played someone there."
"So how do you expect it to play compared to Kolkata?"
"Yeah, hard to know, I think it's been a bit more high scoring here throughout the tournament. Yeah, it's been a pretty good wicket, so yeah, hard to say."
Cummins was asked about the challenges of bowling on pitches like these, typical of the subcontinent, where there's a wear and tear a lot earlier in the game than in Australia. He said the considerable time spent in India over the past year or so had helped develop familiarity with the conditions.
"No doubt playing on your own wicket in your own country has some advantages, similar to wickets that you've been playing your whole life. But we've played a lot of cricket over here"
"You've got to be brave with some of the balls you use, slower balls, bouncers, you've got to find that balance between mixing it up but also not go chasing too much," Cummins said. "I think we've struck that balance pretty well and at least over here in India, a lot of times by the end of the innings, things like cutters work perhaps better than it does elsewhere in the world."
"Yeah, I mean, it's hard to say," he said. "It's obviously the same for both teams. No doubt playing on your own wicket in your own country has some advantages, similar to wickets that you've been playing your whole life. But we've played a lot of cricket over here.
"So, yeah, we'll wait and see. I think, of all the venues, perhaps this venue - the toss isn't as important as, say, a Mumbai Wankhede Stadium or other venues. So, we'll be ready in terms of anything they'll throw at us. Yeah, we'll wait and see, but we'll make sure we have some plans."
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo