Pitch report – Eden Gardens


We run the rule over the venue for the first Test match between India and the West Indies in Kolkata this week.

<b>Established:</b> 1864<br><b>Capacity:</b> 90,000<br><b>Floodlights:</b> Yes<br><b>Ends:</b> High Court End, Pavilion End<br><b>Home Team:</b> Bengal, Kolkata Knight Riders<br><b>Curator:</b> Probir Mukherjee<br><b>Test History:</b> 38 Tests; 10 home wins; 9 away wins; 19 draws<br><b>Last 10 Tests:</b> 5 home wins; 3 away wins, 2 draws<br><b>Last 10 Tosses:</b> 10 batted first (4 wins, 4 defeats, 2 draws)

<b>Overview</b><br>Described by many as the 'Lord's of Asia', Edens Gardens is undoubtedly one of the finest cricket cathedrals in the world – and a firm favourite as a results ground among <a href='http://www.paddypower.com/bet/cricket' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>Indian cricket betting odds</b></a>.

Legend has it that George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland, wanted his two sisters to grow up in an atmosphere of unfettered joy in nature, and earmarked the present day Eden Gardens for them to enjoy. The Eden sisters nurtured this garden, which surrounds and includes the site of the cricket stadium, with utmost care and devotion. When they had to leave they presented Eden Gardens as a gift to the people of Kolkata.

The first ever Test match played here was against Douglas Jardine's England in 1934. Since then the ground has hosted 37 more Test matches – more than any other venue in India. The ground was also the venue for the final of the 1987 World Cup between Australia and England, which was won by the Aussies.

More memorable is the fact that it was the venue for India's greatest ever comeback, when VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid batted out an entire day to turn a Test match against Australia in 2001. Steve Waugh had enforced the follow-on, but ended up regretting it as India went on to win the match by 171 runs.

However, things have not always been rosy at Eden Gardens – games against the West Indies in 1966, Australia in 1969 and Sri Lanka during the 1996 World Cup semi-final were marred by unfortunate incidents such as riots and crowd trouble.

Nonetheless, it remains <i>the</i> cricketing temple of India, and while the official capacity is stated to be 90,000, that figure has often been exceeded, creating an atmosphere that few cricket grounds can claim to rival. The stadium itself is shaped like a giant, shallow bowl, and has imposing, distinctive floodlights which tower over it.

<b>Last Time Out</b><br>Another team to win the toss and lose the match in Kolkata, India were entirely poor in December 2012's third Test. Three half-tons and a string of other good starts didn't amount to one century, as a first-innings total of 316 all out disappointed home fans.

England replied with a hefty 523, thanks largely to Alastair Cook's 190, and then dismissed the hosts for 247. A small deficit was then knocked off with three wickets down early on day five. Spinners claimed 18 of the 33 wickets, with slow bowlers opening the attack in the fourth innings.

<b>Happy Hunting Ground</b><br>Laxman and Dravid's retirements have pushed <b>Sachin Tendulkar</b> to the fore of Eden Gardens' run-scoring ranks. He has welcomed 862 in 20 innings, at an average of 47.88 – some seven runs less than his career aggregate, though. India, meanwhile, will be hard pressed not to select <b>Pragyan Ojha</b>, given his 11 Kolkata wickets at 29.09 each.

The West Indies boast as many five survivors from November 2011's visit, which resulted in a heavy defeat. <b>Darren Bravo</b> scored a big second-innings century in that match, and will be eager to capitalise on the lessons learned.

<b>They Said</b><br>"It will be a good, firm, even-bouncing wicket, so that the [batsmen] will be able to play their shots. There is no such thing as a bowler's wicket in cricket. That is an under-prepared wicket. Cricket is a game of batsmanship. When a batsman makes a ton he gets more applause than when a bowler gets a five-for. That's the difference. I had no pressure to prepare a wicket tailor-made for Sachin. And why should I? He's played 198 Test matches. For Sachin, to make it easier to bat is a foolish approach. There's a reason why he's played so many Test matches. And I'll just pray to God that he shows that again, by making another hundred in his 199th Test. It's just a pleasure for us to watch him play here for one last time." – head groundsman <b>Probir Mukherjee</b>.

"There is no Diwali festival. This is Sachin festival. This is officially 'Salute Sachin'." – " says Cricket Association of Bengal treasurer <b>Biswarup Dey</b>.

"I took a lot of notes of how Indian bowlers vary their pace under these conditions and pitches. I monitored Ravichandran Ashwin a lot and I cannot wait to come and assess the conditions for myself. Then I'll adapt." – West Indies spinner <b>Shane Shillingford</b>.

"India is a difficult place to bat but it's good once you can utilise the conditions there. It's about adapting quickly. The upcoming tour is much different to the first time I toured India because now I have more experience." – West Indies batsman <b>Kieran Powell</b>.

<b>Weather Forecast</b><br>With no rain, little wind, heavy humidity and temperatures in excess of 33 degrees Celsius, all and sundry are in for a taxing five days of Test cricket. The stifling weather, too, is likely to bake the pitch into something quite batsmen-friendly before the necessary deterioration intervenes for the spinners.

<b>Conclusion</b><br>India's tactic of using a worn pitch in Mumbai backfired entirely last year, and another used deck was deployed for the third match, which again hurt the hosts. This time, however, all and sundry can expect a reasonably fresh surface.

Indeed, the last first-class match played here was in December 2012, when Bengal and Hyderabad played out a low-scorer. Not one innings reached 190. Fast bowler Shami Ahmed, picked in this month's squad, was pretty prolific in that match – snaring a 10-wicket haul.

Mukherjee, meanwhile, relatively free of the BCCI's interference and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's ongoing call for rank turners, has again insisted his pitch will reward good cricket rather than afford the spinners too much assistance.

The toss will, of course, offer a definitive advantage – 38 matches have seen only five teams opt to field first. No captain has done so in the last 13 Tests. The Windies' Eden Gardens record is up and down – after three wins, two losses and four draws. Intriguing <a href='http://www.paddypower.com/bet/cricket/cricket-test-matches/India-V-West-Indies-6023695.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>match betting odds of 8/11</b></a> suggest this trend will continue.