It’s been a hard 10 days for the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) officials. First, they had to convince their uncompromising chief curator Prabir Mukherjee to relax his principles and give India a surface to indulge their spinners. In the meantime, the CAB officials have been flooded with calls from the powers-that-be, suggesting that the Eden Gardens wicket not be watered excessively.
“We don’t want to end up preparing an under-prepared surface,” grumbled a CAB official. “All we desire is five days of quality cricket, not a match that degenerates into a three-day affair. Our people pay through their noses for a ticket. We can’t rob them of their cricket, whichever way the contest goes.”
We may have to wait for a few overs on Day One to gauge what to expect from the surface. The locals believe that the black clay of the Eden Gardens should aid slow turn, precisely what the Indian spinners had prayed for. Dhoni, however, thinks that his spin forces may have to wait longer in this Test before imposing themselves. “The wicket looks good,” he said. “We will have to see the wear and tear and how it behaves. I don’t think there will be much help for the spinners initially. At this time of the year, fast bowlers get some swing both at the start of the play and towards the end. They will be really crucial.” Has the reversal at the Wankhede led to a shift in thinking? Dhoni insists that he would go down the same route — an absolute turner even if it means an early result. He said, “You have to stick your strengths. That’s why you always say it’s not who wins the Test. It’s about providing different conditions where all teams want to do well. When it comes to the subcontinent, it’s the spinners who play a crucial role. Whatever the result, we should stick to our speciality.”
Alastair Cook, too, would rather have “a result wicket”. “As I said in Mumbai, it gave us a great chance of winning,” Cook said. “On the very flat ones, it’s hard to get a result. Mumbai proved that a turning track gives both the sides a chance to win. I’m not quite sure how this wicket will play. It won’t have the bounce of Mumbai.”