Gahunje pitch, Salgaonkar back in focus
IMPORTANT TO STICK TO THE BASICS AND THE PROCESS EVERY DAY: ASHWIN Second Test Against SA Starts On Thursday
Visakhapatnam: Having played for the first time for India in nearly a year, has spoken of how he struggled to cope with days when he was not part of the team. In an interview with fielding coach R Sridhar that was put up on the BCCI’s website, Ashwin said, “Obviously these things happen over a period of time and you can’t plan these things. I have been very lucky in terms of where I have got in my career in terms of racing up with all these records.
“It’s important to stick to the process every single day, try and stick to the basics, keep it as simple as possible because that’s what makes it easier for you everytime you get in the next game,” he said.
“When it comes to my skill, I want to be as prepared as possible and try and tick all the boxes before a game. Try and be in the best possible mental and physical space.” Pune: Former Maharashtra speedster Pandurang Salgaonkar will get a chance to redeem himself when the Gahunje stadium hosts a Test match between India and South Africa from Thursday. A lot has happened in Salgaonkar’s life in the last two and a half years.
The 69-year-old, who looks after the pitch and ground preparation at the international facility at MCA, faced heavy criticism after the Test between India and Australia in Feb 2017 lasted only three days, with spinners taking 31 wickets between them. Being the first ever Test in Pune made it worse. The ICC had rated the wicket as ‘poor’.
The MCA didn’t take any chances for the IPL matches the same year, roping in former Maharashtra captain and national selector Surendra Bhave to assist Salgaonkar for the April-May tournament. Salgaonkar, unfortunately, was then caught in a sting operation related to pitch fixing just before the India-New Zealand ODI on the same ground four months later. Though the efforts to disturb the ODI beyond repair weren’t successful, Salgaonkar was suspended by International Cricket Council (ICC) for six months for failing to report the incident to the anti-corruption authorities.
Though MCA recalled Salgaonkar for the job as soon as his suspension period ended, there was an attached stigma. “As far as I know, only I’m looking after the Gahunje wicket for the South Africa Test,” said Salgaonkar,
London: looking fit and composed. “I won’t be talking to the media about the pitch or anything before or during the Test match,” he told TOI on Monday. “Everything is perfect at the ground. There are no problems whatsoever due to rains.” The Gahunje stadium, which has a sand-based outfield, has got a good drainage facility. Salgaonkar had defended himself about the Test match wicket against Australia by saying that the team management and the BCCI curator tried to change the nature of the pitch at the very last moment and that led to the complications. That’s not the case now.
If spinners called the shots two years ago on this pitch, it could be the turn of fast bowlers now. Intermittent rain, cool breeze and moisture is expected to give some encouragement to the pacers. The batters will enjoy their stay at the crease on Day 2 and Day 3 only if the sun is out and the bounce is conducive for strokeplay.
However, the pitch at Gahunje has been unpredictable in its short history. It has been managed by Salgaonkar from the beginning, including the first IPL in Pune in 2012.
SURVIVING TOUGH TIMES: Pune pitch curator Pandurang Salgaonkar