Eden curator promises a run feast

Sujan Mukherjee, who took charge last year, says Nathan Coulter-Nile could be the lone threat for India. But then, heavy downpour could play a spoilsport.

Eden Gardens remain under cover as it rains heavily in Kolkata on Tuesday.   -  K. R. Deepak

When India and Australia last met at the Eden Gardens for an ODI in 2003, the host couldn’t chase 236; and it fell short of 37 runs. But the balance between the bat and ball is different today. The starry Indian batting line-up is definitely a stronger force to reckon with, and the Eden wicket has changed over the years too.

In the last two games at the venue, India scored 404/5 (against Sri Lanka for a winning cause in 2014) and 316/9 (versus England, which it lost earlier this year).

Eden Gardens’ chief curator Sujan Mukherjee claims the wicket is going to be neutral in the second ODI between the two sides here on Thursday. “If the rains don’t play spoilsport, you can expect a good game of cricket. Though the pitch is going to stay covered for longer hours if the rain continues, but I don’t think that is going to make any difference to the nature of the wicket,” Mukherjee told Sportstar.

“I don’t make personal wickets, as you have seen in the last one year. My wickets are known for pace, bounce and a bit of spin. The pitch will have good carry and the batsmen will get a chance to play their strokes too. It is a sporting wicket,” he added.

Former India skipper Sourav Ganguly, who is the current president of the Cricket Association of Bengal, also helps Mukherjee with his inputs when laying the wicket. “Since Ganguly played the game, he understands the demand of a good wicket. His inputs are valuable but these days, he doesn’t get much time for inspection, he comes whenever he is free. He wouldn’t say much if things are on track. Even he is a neutral person, he told me to lay a pitch that will comfort both teams,” confirmed Mukherjee, who believes Nathan Coulter-Nile could be the lone threat for India.

“The rest are all mediocre bowlers. The Indian team seems to have a better combination of pace and spin.”

So, what would be the expected total on this wicket? “That is a debatable topic. Royal Challengers Bangalore, with names like Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers, was bundled out for 49 in the IPL this year. But overall, this is a 280-300 wicket.”  Interestingly, in that IPL match, Coulter-Nile had stunned a star-studded RCB batting line-up, claiming three wickets.

But now, the whole story is now dependent on the rain gods.