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19.12.2018 11:22
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The Kanpur track is dry, has cracks, and it will assist the home side, as it should. But, if you listen to head groundsman Shiv Kumar, only as much as it should. There are early indications that the ball wont turn as early or as alarmingly as it did in Nagpur and Mohali last season, when India won both Tests inside three days.There might be some concern at the sight of the cracks three days from the start of a Test, but Shiv said the soil has deceptively good binding qualities, and that erring on the side of caution could result in a repeat of the 2004-05 Test when Andrew Hall scored 163 in a boring draw. That was the debut Test for Shiv, an electrician by formal training who decided to try his hand as a groundsman because of unemployment. He says he has learnt a lot from that 2004-05 draw.The other extreme in Kanpur, though, appeared in 2008 when India, trailing 0-1 in the series, beat South Africa in three days on a vicious turner, which was later rated poor by the ICC. Shiv said that happened because of the April heat, and a repeat was not likely to happen this year. If the Test on crack was played in the heat of April, the one on valium was played in November when the weather cools down considerably. This one, in September, might be bang in the middle in terms of heat; September used to be pleasant before global warming turned the north Indian summer into a seemingly never-ending phenomenon.Shiv has three reasons to be confident this pitch wont start turning alarmingly on day one. Firstly, the cracks might be visible, but they are not loose; in fact the surface is quite hard. A knuckle knock on the pitch creates a solid sound. Secondly, Shiva said the binding qualities of the Kanpur soil make it a difficult surface to break. Thirdly, the pitch is still getting watered, unlike Nagpur last year where the cracks had become loose by the time the toss happened. The pitch was kept under covers to shield it from the scorching sun during the day, and it was watered at 5pm. More rolling and watering is expected on the two days before the match.There are patches of grass on the pitch, but they are too dry and too far apart to provide any real encouragement for traditional fast bowling. However, if it rains - it rained on Sunday and some mild showers are expected during the Test - the heavy atmosphere and the high water table at Green Park could make traditional swing and seam a factor. Otherwise Shiv expects only about an hours help for the quicks on the first morning.A typical Green Park track, Shiv said, on the basis of first-class matches in the Ranji Trophy, is good for batting for the first two days, and then it starts to take turn. That is more a classic Test track in India: good for batting in the first half of the match and moving along at a rapid pace in the second. 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