Word is awaited on what exactly the Wankhede wicket will be, following MS Dhoni’s call that India could do with rank turners even if a Test is reduced to a three-day affair.
Wankhede curator Sudhir Naik has ducked every query related to the wicket. “I had a meeting with the BCCI officials and they have told me not to speak to the press. You can write whatever you want to. In any case, you people write whatever you want to,” the former India pacer and Zaheer Khan’s childhood coach said.
A Mumbai Cricket Association official was asked if Naik received instructions from the board. “Knowing the man,” the official remarked agitatedly, “he will not buckle under pressure. Why are we getting too obsessed with the wicket? The surface doesn’t hinder the ball’s air speed. Also, the early morning mist should aid the bowlers of both the teams. You can’t bring any external agency to doctor the air, can you?”
He added that Naik usually ensures that a Test wicket lasts five days and does not risk being tagged as ‘under-prepared’.
For the record, the 22-yard strip had an even covering of grass on Wednesday. That is, of course, no indication of how the wicket will look like on Day One.
Meanwhile, Umesh Yadav was rendered doubtful for the Wankhede Test owing to strain on his lower back. Yadav, who picked up four wickets in the first Test, underwent a scan on Wednesday and did not turn up for the net session. Yadav’s timely strikes in Ahmedabad came as a relief to the Indian spinners who were made to toil by Alastair Cook and Matthew Prior.
Ashok Dinda has been flown in as a cover for Yadav, although it’s unlikely that he will make his Test debut. Ishant Sharma, who had a viral fever before the first Test, was seen bowling to Sachin Tendulkar and Cheteshwar Pujara at full pelt for well over 30 minutes. The lanky seamer should be preferred over the Bengal pacer.