Eden Gardens pitch-perfect on Day 1

The bowlers enjoyed the juice in the pitch. The batsmen had to be watchful. This was Test cricket. Not at its best. But getting close to test the skills of the protagonists of the longer version.

eden gardens bell kolkata kapil dev

A Lord's like bell has been installed at the Eden Gardens stadium in Kolkata.   -  PTI

Two stalwarts from yesteryear who hardly bothered about looking at the pitch on the eve of the match were GR Viswanath and BS Chandrasekhar. Viswanath could make runs on a minefield and Chandra would confound the batsmen even on a pitch of cement. The art of making runs and taking wickets marked their cricket, at home and overseas.

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The 22-yard strip, in modern times, evokes awe from the players. The first question a captain is asked relates to the pitch. “Have you seen the pitch?,” the press conference invariably begins with this question. The technicalities of the subject are further analysed by the curators, who become the most sought after figures much before the first ball of the contest.

The pitch at the Eden Gardens here was untested which created apprehensions in the rival camps as the teams prepared for the match. The fears were dispelled in the first session that saw some engaging cricket.

The bowlers enjoyed the juice in the pitch. The batsmen had to be watchful. This was Test cricket. Not at its best. But getting close to test the skills of the protagonists of the longer version. The pitch would have good `carry’, former India captain Sourav Ganguly had remarked on Thursday. Who knows the Eden track better than him. It had bounce, pace, turn, even if a bit slow. The audience loved it.

>Recently, Harbhajan Singh, the wily off-spinner, had lamented the trend of playing home Tests on rank turners. He had a point. The Indian team, however, is in the hands of a coach who would never support the idea of `doctoring’ the pitch. Eventually, the pitch that was rolled out was as good as you can imagine for the longer version of the game.

It rekindled memories of times when a bowler had to earn his wicket and a batsman would remember to respect a good ball. The first day’s play here gave the purists much to relish. Seamer Matt Henry, coming in for leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, produced a gem that kissed M. Vijay’s bat, the ball showing its fangs off the pitch, just that seam movement that foxed the batsman.

In the last session, off-spinner Jeetan Patel, replacing an injured Mark Craig, got the ball to turn and bounce, compelling the batsman to play it into the hands of forward short-leg.

A seamer and a spinner had a dismissal each to showcase their prowess on a pitch for all seasons. It produced lively cricket at the Eden, the stadium for all seasons….