A lot needs to be done to improve infrastructure

George Bailey and Glenn Maxwell...a new record for the fifth wicket in Ranchi.-Pics: R. DEEPAK

The pitches and grounds committee of the BCCI is more into overseeing the pitches. It should now concentrate on improving the ground conditions as well, especially in places like Ranchi and Cuttack. S. Sabanayakan reports.

India has progressed to the highest echelon of cricket. The cricket-crazy nation has scaled the pinnacle of success in every sphere of the game. Indian cricketers are demigods. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is one of the richest sports bodies in the world and it is in a position to control world cricket as well.

The Board, in fact, ploughs back a lot of its revenue into the State units for the development of the game, including infrastructure. As part of the infrastructure development, the pitches and grounds are supposed to be maintained to the highest order to ensure that the system does not fail on an important day.

The Ranchi JSCA International Stadium Complex is a new structure and is rated the best in this part of the country. But it could not withstand an hour of rain and the fourth ODI between Australia and India had to be called off after the halfway mark. The Aussies, asked to bat first, posted 295 for eight in 50 overs. India began strongly, reaching 27 for no loss in 4.1 overs when the heavens opened up.

The ground staff worked for nearly an hour but could not get the outfield ready for play. The reason was simple: the JSCA had covers only to protect the pitch and the 30-yard circle. So the area beyond that was not protected. Umpires, Richard Kettleborough (England), Vineet Kulkarni (India) and the TV umpire, Anil Chaudhary, after a quick inspection, deemed the outfield unplayable.

India, trailing 1-2 in the series against Australia, looked to be in control of the proceedings but then rain played spoilsport.

When the cricket caravan moved to Cuttack it was clear that the fifth ODI would not start at all. Continuous rain for nearly a week forced the abandonment of the match, effectively making it a five-match series.

Mohammad Shami has just dismissed Aaron Finch in the Ranchi match. The paceman was the pick of the Indian bowlers.-

Even the Barabati Stadium did not have covers good enough to protect the entire outfield. Seventeen years ago, an India-Australia duel was washed out at the same venue. Those who were involved in hosting the game in Cuttack would probably put the blame on the elements but there was much to be done to improve the infrastructure.

The pitches and grounds committee of the BCCI is more into overseeing the pitches. It should now concentrate on improving the ground conditions as well, especially in places like Ranchi and Cuttack.

Now coming to the Ranchi match, the contrasting innings by Australian captain George Bailey and the exciting stroke-player, Glenn Maxwell, were the highlights of the fourth ODI. The senior pro was businesslike while the young Maxwell was all aggression. The duo established a record for the fifth wicket with a partnership of 153 runs against India. Both were unlucky to be dismissed in their 90s. Bailey’s 98 contained seven fours and three sixes. Maxwell clouted five sixes and six boundaries in his 92 that came off 77 balls.

The two completely dominated the Indian bowling. R. Ashwin had no clue against the batting prowess of these two gifted cricketers. For the first time, India got early breakthroughs, thanks to Bengal pacer Mohammad Shami. This right-hand seamer moved the ball in the air and off the pitch and his two incoming deliveries that shattered the stumps of opener Aaron Finch and Watson were gems.

Shami’s initial six-over spell earned him three wickets for just 21. He ended with an analysis of three for 42.

THE SCORES Ranchi match

Australia: Aaron Finch b Shami 5, Phil Hughes c Dhoni b Shami 11, Shane Watson b Shami 14, George Bailey c Sharma b Vinay 98, Adam Voges lbw b Ashwin 7, Glenn Maxwell lbw b Vinay 92, Brad Haddin b Jadeja 3, James Faulkner (not out) 23, Mitchell Johnson st. Dhoni b Ashwin 25, Clint McKay (not out) 7; Extras (lb-7, w-3): 10; Total (for eight in 50 overs): 295.

Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-24, 3-32, 4-71, 5-224, 6-232, 7-238, 8-281.

India bowling: Jaydev Unadkat 6-0-31-0, Mohammad Shami 8-1-42-3, Vinay Kumar 8-0-52-2, Ashwin 9-0-57-2, Ravindra Jadeja 10-0-56-1,Yuvraj Singh 1-0-12-0, Suresh Raina 8-0-38-0.

India: Rohit Sharma (not out) 9, Shikhar Dhawan (not out) 14; Extras (b-4): 4; Total (for no loss in 4.1 overs): 27.

Australia bowling: Mitchell Johnson 2.1-0-10-0, Clint McKay 2-0-13-0.

(Match abandoned due to rain)