In the recently concluded Duleep trophy semi-finals, there were two contrasting matches. In the first semi-final between North Zone and Central Zone in Mohali, it was a batting paradise as Central Zone scored 538 runs in the first innings. In reply, North Zone scored 457, in the second innings Central Zone scored 312 and North had to score 394 runs. The end result was a dull draw.
In the 2nd semi-finals between South Zone and East Zone at Lahli, Rohtak South Zone scored 264 out of which 120 runs was scored by Robin Uthappa. East Zone was dismissed for under 100 in both innings. These case studies do not show much about the cricketing skills but reflect the conditions of the pitch.
Indian venues have flat batting tracks expect few which help the pace bowlers in the first session or spinners in the later half of the match. The flat batting tracks are Rajkot, Nagpur, Bangalore, Hyderabad on which Indian players score tons of runs. Pitches in Lahli, Kanpur, Wankhede Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai do have the potential of helping bowlers mainly the spinners. Hardly any pitch in India is helpful for the pacers throughout the match. This is the mainly discouraging factor for youngsters to take up pace bowling.
A seasoned batsman is one who can play and score runs when the conditions are favorable to the bowlers like Uthappa scoring a century where not many others were able to make decent scores. Similarly a seasoned bowler is one who exploit the pitches when they are favorable to the batsmen like Pankaj Singh in finals of Duleep Trophy yesterday.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India has the pitches committee, which probably has not given much stress on the preparation of pitches in India. It must order and oversee the curators of pitches across the country prepare balanced pitches that help the batsmen and bowlers. India need to produce some quality fast bowlers which can perform outside India and win matches for the country. For this it is essential that we have atleast 3-4 pitches in the country which encourage pace and bounce. The BCCI must send few of Indian youngsters players to participate in county cricket in England so that they can improve their skills in both pace bowling and batting on bouncy wickets. Some of the Indian players who have come from domestic cricket are Rahane, Rohit, Jadeja playing in all three formats of the game. Out of these 3 players Rahane have been able to adapt well in foreign soil and show his mettle. But there has to be systemic approach for developing such skills.
Some of the Indian players like Sanju Samson, Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey and Robin Uthappa have done well outside India at India A level which are prospects for Indian senior team. Pitches project player’s real skills and potential to play under trying conditions. Therefore the accountability of preparing appropriate pitches has to taken up by the BCCI.