Pitch report – MA Chidambaram Stadium

We run the rule over the venue for the Test series opener between India and Australia in Chennai.

<b>Established:</b> 1916<br><b>Formerly known as:</b> Chepauk; Madras Cricket Club Ground<br><b>Capacity:</b> 50000<br><b>Floodlights:</b> Yes<br><b>Ends:</b> Anna Pavilion End, V Pattabhiraman Gate End<br><b>Home Teams:</b> Tamil Nadu, Chennai Super Kings<br><b>Head Groundsman:</b> K Parthasarthy<br><b>Test History:</b> 30 Tests (12 home wins, 6 away wins, 11 draws, 1 tied)<br><b>Last 10 Tests:</b> 5 home wins, 1 away win, 4 draws<br><b>Last 10 Tosses:</b> 10 bat first (3 wins, 3 losses, 4 draws)

<b>Overview</b><br>Fondly known as the Chepauk, the ground is now named after former BCCI president M.A. Chidambaram and became the 27th venue to host a Test match when India played against Douglas Jardine's England in 1934.

India recorded their first ever Test victory here in 1952 – against England – and the venue also has the distinction of hosting the second tied Test, which came in September 1986 between India and Australia.

The fans in Chennai have a reputation for their sporting behaviour, having given a standing ovation to Saeed Anwar for his incredible 194 in an ODI and to the Pakistan side after they won a Test here in 1999. Pakistan did a lap of honour to show their appreciation on the latter occasion.

The pitch used to be known for its sporting nature – giving equal opportunities to both bat and ball – but in recent times it has become a batting paradise, hastened by the demand for big runs in the Indian Premier League matches.

<b>Last Time Out</b><br>In a match that saw 17 of the 33 wickets fall to spin, four men scored centuries and three others big half-tons in December 2008. The best of the lot, though, belonged to Tendulkar. A fourth-innings special carried India to a six-wicket victory – and vital series lead – late on day five.

<b>Happy Hunting Ground</b><br>Unsurprisingly, as is the case at most Indian grounds, <b>Sachin Tendulkar</b> sports a big average of 87.60 in 14 innings here – typified by five centuries, but contrasted by two ducks.

Next in line is <b>Virender Sehwag</b>, with 708 runs from eight knocks, and an average of a whopping 101.14 – thanks to a couple of centuries and one or two not outs.

On a bowling front, <b>Harbhajan Singh</b> will again justify a recall – on the back of 39 wickets in six fixtures. Singh's ground average of 26.56 is some six runs less than his career aggregate, such are the spin-favouring conditions.

<b>They Said</b><br>"It's important to either get down the wicket or get real deep in your crease. If you can put them off their game, then you know you're in for a good day. My game is to be decisive – either go forward or go back. If I'm caught in between, that's where my downfall is. I feel my game is better where I'm putting the pressure on the bowler. You've got to show intent, try and look to score, but that doesn't mean scoring off every ball. You have to respect the good balls, and when the ball is there to be hit, use your feet." – Australian opening batsman <b>David Warner</b>.

<b>Weather Forecast</b><br>Friday through Tuesday are set to bring sweltering heat, typical of India this time of year. No initial cloud cover and no prediction of rain will surely see the toss-winning captain, yet again, bat first.

<b>Conclusion</b><br>The MA Chidambaram Stadium is yet to see first-class cricket this season, but recent tour fixtures at its neighbouring India Cement Limited Guru Nanak College Ground brought familiar variables primed for plenty of runs.

Such has been the norm in Chennai for the greater part of the past five years, and 2012's six draws in seven first-class fixtures.

India won't bat an eyelid in selecting two specialist spinners, and perhaps a third, while the Australians avoided complementing Nathan Lyon with Xavier Doherty – or at the very least spinning all-rounder Glenn Maxwell – by selecting an additional seamer in Moises Henriques. This may well backfire.

Finally, unless overhead conditions rule otherwise, the side winning the toss will elect to bat first (only one side has ever done otherwise in the history of the ground) and the run-fest will thus be declared open.