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Guwahati ready to host a run feast

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VIGOROUS TRAINING: Harbhajan Singh and M.S. Dhoni warm up on the concluding day of the Indian team’s conditioning camp in Kolkata.
VIGOROUS TRAINING: Harbhajan Singh and M.S. Dhoni warm up on the concluding day of the Indian team’s conditioning camp in Kolkata.

Nandita Sridhar

Tight security at the Nehru Stadium for the ODI

Guwahati: Guwahati’s last full-length international action involving India goes as far back as Dinesh Mongia’s slaughterhouse innings against Zimbabwe in March 2002.

Since then, international activity has been confined to a Trans-Tasmanian encounter in 2003 and crowd violence following an abandoned India match (due to wet outfield) against England last year.

With no sign of rain in the last 15 days, the first match of the Indian Oil Cup between India and Pakistan is all set to begin.

Befittingly blown-up posters of Indian and Pakistani cricketers were put up in proximity to the Nehru Stadium, as the city gears up for Monday’s match. One rickshawallah chose the logistical comforts of chauffeuring a two-dimensional Indian XI over the real one, not that he was offered the luxury of choice.

For a city starved of action after last year’s abandonment, this was the chance to make up for it.

Security

Once inside the stadium, the all-pervasive police presence made it clear that there would be no compromise on security.

A huge number of policemen and women patrolled areas surrounding the stadium, and other parts of the city.

“We have taken appropriate security measures in view of the situation here.

The CRPF and the State police battalion are involved in providing security. We are executing things as per instructions received,” said G.P. Singh, DIG, Western Range.

Around 250 Pakistanis are expected to arrive in the city for the match, but the DIG said that there would be no separate enclosure for them.

“We have increased security across the city to make sure things go smoothly,” he added.

The cement seats in the stadium are expected to hold more than twenty to twenty five thousand people on Monday.

Batsman-friendly pitch

Assam Cricket Association curator Sunil Baruah labelled the wicket a “300-plus” one, which should delight those thousands that will turn up.

Traditionally, Guwahati has never been a high-scoring venue. Morning due tends to play its part in disrupting top-order batting plans.

Only twice have teams scored 300 or more in an innings in 11 matches. But Baruah was confident that the wicket would suit batting. “It’s a good wicket. I expect a total of more than 300.”

Umpire Ian Gould said that the match would commence at 8.30 a.m. on Monday and ideally finish before sunset (which usually happens at 4.15 p.m.).

Teams may skip practice

The teams are likely to arrive on Sunday morning and will most likely skip practice.

With the amount of cricket that India and Pakistan have played recently, a practice camp in Kolkata and a practice match against Delhi respectively, should suffice as preparation for the series opener.

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