The chairman of the BCCI pitch and grounds committee, Daljit Singh, defended the nature of the wicket for the first India-Sri Lanka Test at Motera.

Apart from the morning sessions on the first two days where the conditions, rather than the pitch, led to a flurry of dismissals, the surface at the Sardar Patel Stadium was loaded in favour of the batsmen.

Daljit told The Hindu on Friday, "You see the curator would have been extra careful after the Test against South Africa here last year when India was bowled out for 76 on the first day. I do not think he would have wanted a repetition of that," said Daljit.

Former India cricketer Dhiraj Parsana was the curator for the first Test. A former wicketkeeper-batsman himself, Daljit pointed out, "You must also see the difference in temperatures. This Test in Ahmedabad has been played in the beginning of winter. It is less hot out here and, consequently, the pitch has not broken up. You need the sun to really blaze down for the wicket to develop cracks."

Daljit, however, admitted that bounce and natural wear and tear were among essential ingredients of a good Test wicket. "In Australia, teams have scored 500 plus in the first innings and still the Test has produced a result since the pitch deteriorates gradually, after the third day. And the surface retains bounce, which is crucial. I must admit that the pitch here has played true on all days. It has been prepared very well. No team wants to lose the first Test of a series."

He conceded sporting tracks were essential to bring crowds to Test cricket. "You need the bowlers to have a fair chance to make the matches interesting. Runs alone are not the answer. But you must also remember that the weather plays a part in preparing a pitch."

Then he reminds you, "You see, India was 32 for four on the first morning. Had India not staged that spectacular recovery, we might have still witnessed a result here."

Queried about the Lankan spinners hardly receiving any purchase on the last day, he said, "It is only the wicket? Perhaps, Murali is not the same bowler."

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