India vs Sri Lanka 2017: Has Ganguly plucked the apple at Eden Gardens?
Preparing a bowler-friendly pitch at Eden Gardens is fine but who will bear the blame if India loses?
After making Adam and the world, God decided to rest. He appointed Adam to assign names to all the animals. Adam enjoyed doing it but got bored after a while and requested God for companionship. Thus, Eve was born. Adam and Eve loved each other and resided in the Garden of Eden with other animals. Until one day, Eve plucked an apple from the Tree of Knowledge, which led to the doom of humanity.
There is a possibility that Ganguly may have to bear the responsibility of plucking that forbidden apple at the Eden Gardens i.e. preparing a bowler friendly wicket. Though there was much talk of preparing fast and bouncy pitches for the India-Sri Lanka series as means of preparation for the upcoming South Africa tour, the poor performance of the Indian batsmen in the first innings is now being attributed to the 'sporting' Eden Gardens pitch.
Ganguly’s bid for the bowlers
Ganguly has always been an advocate of making the game fairer for the bowlers. While he was the captain of India or when he was commentating, he always believed that the game was heavily skewed in favour of the batsmen. He felt that cricket needed to be altered in a manner such that fans could witness a fierce battle between bat and ball.
He may not have been able to accomplish his aim during his playing days but as an administrator, he has certainly played his part in spicing up the game.
The India-Sri Lanka test series was considered to be a one-sided affair given the difference between both sides on paper. However, the test match till now has been a riveting encounter between bat and ball. The very first ball which led to the downfall of KL Rahul was a sign of the things to come.
By 2015, the Eden Gardens pitch had become very slow and keeping low had become its second nature. After the demise of the veteran administrator Jagmohan Dalmiya, Sourav became the CAB (Cricket Association of Bengal) President and was determined for an overhaul. He ensured that the Eden pitch was re-laid and made a lot quicker and bouncier.
Credit and blame go hand in hand
After the pitch was re-laid, India played its first match against New Zealand at Eden Gardens. In that match as well, the uneven bounce of the deck troubled many players. Shikhar Dhawan suffered a sustained thumb injury after being hit twice on his bottom hand. However, Bhuvneshwar took a five-for in the first innings and ultimately India walked away with a comfortable 178 run victory.
India's victory brushed away all the criticism of the Eden pitch under the carpet. Virat went on to term the pitch as a ‘brilliant test wicket’ and it was all well and good at the end.
This time around as well, the pitch at Eden Gardens was the centre of attraction. It further came into limelight, when MS Dhoni, taking out time from his ad shoot, went to Eden Gardens to inspect the pitch. When the two teams reached Kolkata, the pitch they found resembled more to the pitch of Lord's than that to that of any in the subcontinent.
The green top, accompanied by rain and overcast conditions made life increasingly tuff for the batsmen. The Lankans, after winning the toss, took note of the conditions and put India to bat and the hosts were bundled out for a meagre 172.
The poor performance of the Indian batsmen in the first innings triggered a conversation about the pitch. Being the CAB President, the onus of the pitch lies on the shoulders of Ganguly as it has been prepared under his guidance by curator Sujan Mukherjee.
So the question remains, has Dada plucked the forbidden apple, or not?