India vs Australia 2017: Nagpur pitch curator promises a 'very sporting wicket' for final ODI
What's the story?
Unlike some of the past encounters at the venue, the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium in Nagpur is expected to roll out a balanced pitch for the fifth and final ODI between India and Australia on Sunday. Pravin Hingnikar, the venue's pitch curator, has promised a 'very sporting wicket' that will provide a good contest between bat and ball.
"It will be a very sporting wicket, but what’s required for the team is to put runs on the board. I don’t think the toss will have a major role to play, given this is a true wicket. It will provide equal opportunity for both teams. Be it spinners or seamers, no one would have an added advantage come Sunday," Hingnikar told Hindustan Times.
Shedding light on the ground staff's preparedness for rain, he added, "We’ve been working on the pitch for the past 10-12 days, although we had to halt our work in between because of heavy downpours. Luckily, there is no forecast of rain. Even if it does rain, we are prepared to tackle the situation given our surface and underground drainage are up to the mark. We’ll be covering the entire ground in the night just in case it rains."
The VCA Stadium in Nagpur is notorious for dishing out extremely bowling-friendly tracks. During the 2016 World T20 opener between India and New Zealand, the hosts were spun out for just 79 on a raging turner. The venue also received an official warning from the International Cricket Council (ICC) after an under-prepared pitch saw India routing South Africa inside three days during the 2015 Test series between the two teams.
The heart of the matter
However, the last ODI played at the VCA Stadium saw India successfully chase down a mammoth target of 351 on a surface which did not provide any sort of assistance to bowlers. That particular game could be perceived as an aberration since normal trends at the venue lean towards vicious tracks resulting in palpable difficulties for run-scoring.
A slow and low surface greeted India and England during the most recent international fixture played in Nagpur. Despite scoring only 144, the hosts pulled off a thrilling 5-run victory. The likes of Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah used an assortment of cutters as well as subtle changes in pace to stifle the dangerous batting lineup.
Having taken an unassailable 3-1 lead, India will be eager to finish the 5-match series on a winning note when they take the field for the final ODI on Sunday afternoon. On the other hand, the game presents an opportunity for Australia to salvage another consolation victory.
The current India-Australia series has been a stark departure from the previous bilateral affair between the two teams in the subcontinent. Pitches have largely been sporting enough to evince gripping contests between bat and ball. Hopefully, Nagpur will continue the welcome change by putting forth a befitting surface which offers something for everyone.