Kochi, Apr 4 (UNI) The pitch at the Nehru Stadium here is the talking point ahead of the fourth ODI between India and England on April six and curator P V Ramachandran promises it to be a batsman's paradise.
After the slow wickets at Delhi and Faridabad and the Match Referee reportedly expressing displeasure about the strip at Goa, the focus of attention turned to the 22-yard area in this port town.
This would be the fifth ODI at this venue since it was put on the International map eight years ago.
Traditionally it had been a batting paradise and this time too it should be no exception, though a little early bounce was possible.
The pitch was the same used during the Indo-Pak one-dayer last year. It appeared firm and the ball will come on to the bat nicely, Mr Ramachandran told UNI.
'It will be a pitch full of runs and the team batting first should score in excess of 270', he said.
The pitch would take slight turn in the afternoon and would be helpful to the wrist spinners, Mr Ramachandran said, recalling the two five-wicket hauls by Sachin Tendulkar against Australia (5 for 32) in 1998 and five for 50 against Pakistan last year.
The wicket normally takes slow turn as the match progresses. That was why wrist spinners like Sachin are able to take wickets, he said.
BCCI Pitch and Ground Committee member P R Viswanathan inspected the pitch a couple of days ago and expressed happiness about it. 'He was very much satisfied with the strip', Mr Ramachandran said.
The curator had about only 40 days time at his disposal to get the ground ready as cultural functions were held. But he brought it to fine shape and the outfield, though looking patchy in one or two places, was expected to be 'very very fast'.
That the pitch here aids batsmen can be gauged from the fact that of four games played so far here, there were three totals in excess of 300, with five batsmen scoring hundreds. The highest total on this ground was 309 for five by India against Australia when Ajay Jadeja scored a match winning 105. Australia lost the run chase, thanks to Sachin's dream spell of five wickets.
India successfully chased South Africa's 301 for three, which was largely due to twin centuries by Gary Kirsten (115) and Herschille Gibbs (111). Jadeja came up with a fine 92 to fashion India's win.
The other centurions were Virender Sehwag (108) and Rahul Dravid (104), when India humbled Pakistan by 87 runs. India made 281 for eight and restricted Pakistan to 194, with Tendulkar again doing the trick with the ball, claiming his second five wicket haul.