Slow turner awaits England at Eden Gardens

KOLKATA: As the dust settles on Wankhede Stadium’s 22-yard strip, where a shameful chapter in Indian cricket now lies buried under its red soil, the focus shifts to the Eden Gardens.

With the unrepentant MS Dhoni convinced that the road to salvation lies in torturous turns on a treacherous surface, there is considerable pressure on the local curator to produce the kind of surface that would ease the creases on the Indian captain’s forehead and put a smile back on his face.

However, no matter how hard Eden curator Prabir Mukherjee tries to please the Indian captain, it is virtually impossible for his ground staff to come up with the kind of made-to-order playing surface that Dhoni has been demanding to turn Team India’s fortunes.

Unless grossly under-prepared, pitches in the sub-continent rarely afford sharp turn on Day One of a Test match.

With International Cricket Council (ICC) hawks these days closely monitoring playing surfaces all over the world, no curator, or hosting association, will risk preparing a rank turner lest match officials deem it “unfit” for play.

After Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla was banned by the ICC for 12 months in 2009 for dishing out such a surface in an ODI against Sri Lanka, it is unlikely that the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) bosses will let patriotism cloud pragmatism.

After all, the CAB is slated to host a money-spinning ODI against Pakistan (January 3) less than a month after the last ball is bowled in the third Test here.

To be fair to Mukherjee though, there is very little he can do at this stage of pitch preparation. Eden Gardens has hosted two Ranji matches so far this season, and both have resulted in draws.

Bengal’s superior pace attack had prompted the team’s think tank to opt for a greenish track on both occasions, but it played slow and low. No surprises there because even in the heat of April and May, Eden pitches had behaved no differently during IPL 5.