No more experiments please. That’s the brief the Delhi & District Cricket Association is following ahead of the third and final ODI between India and Pakistan on Sunday.
Having already served a one-year ban for producing an “unplayable” wicket for an ODI involving India and Sri Lanka in 2009, the groundsmen want to dish out a “simple and straight” pitch to please a large crowd.
If January 3 was the coldest day in the last four decades, then Friday was no better. However, a short spell of bright sunshine did bring a smile on chief curator Venkat Sundaram’s face. “I don’t really remember when was the last I saw an international match being played at the Kotla during this time of the year. As a pitch committee member, I had always suggested to the BCCI to not hold any matches in the North in this season owing to the intense cold. However, we’re prepared as we knew about this match in advance. We started preparations about 15 days back,” Venkat told DNA.
He added, “Take a look at the outfield and the square of the wicket. Everything is in good shape and I am sure there will be no complaints from either team this time around.”
It’s the same wicket where the India-West Indies Test in 2011 and a subsequent ODI against England were held. “The wicket has been tried and tested over the last couple of years. In fact, the last Ranji Trophy match between Delhi and Orissa on the same surface produced an outright result,” Venkat informed.
Despite India’s loss in the first two games, the demand for tickets has been huge. “It’s going to be a sold-out as it should be during any game involving Pakistan,” said the former India opener Chetan Chauhan, who is also the DDCA vice-president.
Meanwhile, security has been beefed up owing to the presence of almost a 100 VIPs, including many Pakistan former greats. Not to forget that 1000 cricket lovers from across the border have been granted visas.
Around 1,200 security personnel will be deployed in and around Kotla. Twenty commandos have been manning the pitch square, while 72 door-frame metal detectors and 100 CCTV cameras have been installed within the stadium.
“We’ve marked seats just below the dressing room for the VIPs from Pakistan. These include former greats like Hanif Mohammad (who’ll be here with his wife), Wazir Ali, Intikhab Alam, Sadiq Mohammad, Mushtaq Mohammad and Wasim Bari along with many other PCB officials. The other spectators have been allotted seats together in the ‘Hill A’ area on the other side of the dressing room,” explained Chauhan.
With many groups threatening to hold protests on the day of the match, security agencies are leaving nothing to chance.