Monday, November 23, 2009

Kanpur’s pitch: It’s time to rise above it

By John Cheeran
Those who overcome the conditions in which they are pitted against can lay claims to be heroes.
As the second Test between India and Sri Lanka begins in Kanpur on Tuesday the focus is neither on Sachin Tendulkar, the highest run-getter, nor on Muttaiah Muarlitharan, the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket. It's all about the nature of the pitch.
As it has been widely commented upon, Kanpur has a history of preparing dubious pitches. Well, there is nothing called a level playing field in cricket. But no cricketer would like to play on a wicket that does not honour the basic tenets of the game. That is, a decent chance to score runs, and take wickets, without risking your life and limb.
The excessive focus on the pitch in Green Park also tells a lot about the skills of our cricketers. Now, things have come to such a pass that batsmen can score runs only on sleeping beauties as was the case during the first Test in Ahmedabad. And bowlers cannot take wickets unless the pitch yields disconcerting bounce and turn. So, naturally the question arises. What do these cricketers bring to the pitch?
Hence, you should judge an innings or a haul of wickets in the context of match conditions as well as the status of the pitch.
Having said that, heroic players are those who triumph against insurmountable odds. For they do not dread the pitch. Such batsmen rely on sound technique, their own mind and the willow to tame the demons in the pitch. A batsman's best ally is not helmet, but what's inside it.
Great bowlers do not pray for pitch to crack up but make intelligent use of the ball to rattle stumps.
There is no doubt that Indian and Sri Lankan cricketers would like to have a result, other than a draw, in Kanpur. To make it happen you will have to rise above the pitch.

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