Australian captain Pat Cummins is not happy with the state of pitch ahead of Australia’s World Cup final with India at Narendra Modi Stadium on Sunday night.
Cummins was frustrated when he inspected the pitch with officials, which is reportedly very rough and crude at each end with huge patches in front of the creases, yet like concrete in the middle.
“I’m not a great pitch reader, but it looks pretty firm,” Cummins told media after the inspection.
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“It’s only just been watered, so we’ll give it 24 hours to have another look. But it looks like pretty good.”
While that was Cummins’ diplomatic take, it was a different scenario behind the scenes.
Pat Cummins points out the troubling spots to an official. Credit: Getty ImagesThe Aussie captain was clearly frustrated with the state of the pitch. Credit: Getty Images
He reportedly raised the issue with ground staff, who started rolling the deck immediately.
Veteran cricket writer Bharat Sundaresan said the Australians were “bracing for a trial by spin with concerns over the five-metre patches in front of the creases”.
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“But they’re preferring to not react with alarm, especially with India’s bowlers having taken the pitch out of the equation often in (this year’s World Cup),” he said.
Sundaresan, who writes for cricbuzz.com, also said the pitch had a very unusual appearance.
“Never used this description for a pitch before, but the surface that’ll be used for the World Cup final has a very ‘pistachio and almond flavour’ colour to it from afar,” he wrote on X (formerly Twitter).
“The verdict was that these patches on both sides of the pitch had not been watered, or not to the same extent, anyway as the centre of the wicket,” Sundaresan wrote.
“Leaving the Aussie camp quite convinced that the spinners would come into play a lot more than they have on a number of pitches seen during the tournament, and from early in the piece too.”
News Corp sports journalist Daniel Cherny said the curator had been bouncing a ball at either end.
“One end had been bouncing higher than the other, they then rolled the bouncier end,” Cherny said on X.
There was drama with the pitch in the New Zealand and India semi-final, too, with accusations flying when a local curator changed it.
After he raised his concerns, they started rolling the pitch immediately. Credit: Getty Images
Australia will not only be up against a red-hot India for the final, but 130,000-plus pro-Indian fans will be making plenty of noise in a jam-packed stadium.
India can become the first team since Australia in 2007 to make it through a World Cup undefeated, having breezed through to their first decider since 2011.
The closest any side has come to defeating world No.1 India was New Zealand in the group stage, but even then, the hosts won by four wickets with two overs to play as Mohammed Shami took 5-54.
For their part, Australia fell by six wickets against India in their first match but have since pieced together an eight-game winning streak that has them through to their eighth decider in pursuit of a sixth title.
“(India) have certainly played really well this World Cup,” Cummins said.
“I think we certainly didn’t, I don’t think we scored par in that first game but we’re one catch away from potentially being in front of that game.
“We won an ODI series here early on in the year. There’s lots of moments we can draw on where we’ve had success against a really good Indian side.”
Working in India’s favour will be their passionate fanbase packing out the biggest cricket ground in the world: Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium, which has room for 132,000 seated punters.
The crowd at the only other game India have played there during the tournament, against Pakistan, was so one-sided that Pakistan’s team director Mickey Arthur remarked it “didn’t seem like an ICC event, it seemed like a BCCI event”.
Australia have a better sense of the hostile conditions ahead than most, though.
Of their 15-player World Cup squad, 13 have played in the Indian Premier League and since the beginning of 2019, India have hosted Australia for six white-ball series.
“On this scale (the crowd) is probably bigger than we would have experienced before but it’s not something totally foreign to what we’ve had before,” Cummins said.
“The crowd’s obviously going to be very one-sided but also in sport, there’s nothing more satisfying than hearing a big crowd go silent and that’s the aim for us tomorrow.
“You’ve just got to embrace every part of it, every part of a final even when you know in the lead-up there’s going to be noise and more people and interest and you just can’t get overwhelmed.
“You’ve got to be up for it, you’ve got to love it and just know whatever happens it’s fine but you just want to finish the day with no regrets.”
Australia have no fitness concerns heading into the final but could choose to recall all-rounder Marcus Stoinis if conditions appear more batter-friendly.
Marnus Labuschagne would be the man likely to drop out of the XI in that case.
“Those are things we weigh up before every game,” Cummins said.
– With AAP
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