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Everything to gain, or lose

By Faisal Shariff
October 16, 2003 05:15 IST
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There is one positive side to Sourav Ganguly's injury. It has taken the spotlight away from the Mohali pitch.

Actually this statement is only being made in jest. There is no denying that the nature of the pitch is the flavour of the season, injury or no injury. After all, it will determine if India can maintain its record of having lost a home series just once in the last 17 years.

Complete Coverage

The Kiwis in India
To add to the drama, India goes into the Test with a new captain and, in all probability, a debutant middle-order batsman in Yuvraj Singh.

Just two days before the team for the first Test at Ahmedabad was to be picked, Yuvraj Singh, while working out at a Bombay gymnasium, sounded pessimistic about finding a place in the side.

Two weeks later, he is on the verge of making a dream debut on his home ground, in place of the India captain.

One wonders what will happen if he gets a hundred or wins the match with his bat for India.

The local grapevine says a good helping of green has been taken off the strip to ensure that it does not offer the visitors any advantage.

But curator Daljit Singh rubbished such claims, asserting that he would not allow any grass to be cut to suit the home side.

"The nature and colour of the wicket changes daily before a Test match," Daljit Singh told "There is no sabotage. The heat has also had an impact on the wicket. But it is a good cricket wicket."

Win the toss and bat, says the curator, unless defence is the motive.

Meanwhile, the mind games on either side have kicked off.

Fleming's Musings

Time to make all the hard work count
India coach John Wright has defended taking advantage of home conditions while Kiwi coach Ashley Ross has taken a pot shot at the Indians, saying slow wickets are not ideal preparation for their upcoming tour of Australia.

India must win this Test, as it will preserve a proud record at home and provide a morale-booster for the Australia tour. More than unsettling the Aussies, it will bring about a self-belief that will stand the Indians in good stead Down Under.

Winning at Mohali will count even more because the pitch is not another typical Indian dustbowl, but a good cricket wicket that allows a proper contest between bat and ball. Remember, India's astonishing triumph over Australia in 2001 at home came on good cricket wickets.

Fleming admitted that blaming the wickets would not help their cause since the Kiwis themselves gave terrible wickets to the Indians on their last tour of New Zealand. But brownie points are all he won with that statement to reporters today. For, in Mohali he faces a good cricket wicket, an opposition with a new captain, and a crack at 'creating history'.

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Faisal Shariff

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