Pitch report – Punjab Cricket Association Stadium

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We run the rule over the venue for the third Test between India and Australia in Mohali.

<b>Established:</b> 1993<br><B>Capacity:</b> 28,000 <br><b>Floodlights:</b> Yes<br><B>Ends:</b> Pavilion End, City End <br><b>Home Team:</b> Punjab<br><b>Curator:</b> Daljit Singh<br><b>Test History:</b> 10 Tests; 4 home wins; 1 away win; 5 draws<br><b>Tosses:</b> 6 batted first (2 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses); 4 bowled first (1 win, 3 draws)

<b>Overview</b><br>Formerly a swamp with deep ravines, the PCA Stadium is located in Mohali, a suburb of both the Punjabi and Haryanan capital, Chandigarh, in northern India.

Most of the ground is made up of low uncovered stands with a trench separating spectators from the field which becomes a moat when there's been some rain about. But the Pavilion stand gives the ground a new-age feel as the facilities on offer are of a world class standard and are just 16-odd years old.

At the City End there is a slim, tall stand which gives spectators an excellent view of the match from behind the bowler's arm, and behind it one will find the superb practice facilities.

The pitch used to be known as the liveliest in the country with plenty of bounce, and India were even bowled out for just 83 on the first morning of a Test match against New Zealand in 1999. However, it has flattened out over the years to produce many high-scoring draws.

<b>Last Time Out</b><br>India clinched a thriller by one wicket in 2010, with Australia left to lament a one-nil series deficit. The pitch was well balanced, and brought bigger first innings scores than second. Seamers complemented spinners, reverse swing contrasted spin, and the fixture spanned its full five days.

There were runs on offer for batsmen prepared to put in the tough graft, and wickets for bowlers ready to put in the hard yards – all in all a great Test wicket atypical of its predecessors.

<b>They Said</b><br>"The wicket at the PCA ground here will not be of the same character as it was in Chennai and Hyderabad. The pitch here will be good for both the sides. It will not bring out a one sided result as has happened in the first two matches. We would like to have real good cricket here." – PCA secretary <b>MP Pandove</b>.

"I think it is the one place in India, or one of the few places in India, that is renowned for a bit of pace and bounce. But in comparison to wickets in Australia there still won't be the same amount that you get back home. But it's certainly one place where the quicks could come in and do a little bit more damage on." – Australia all-rounder <b>Moises Henriques</b>

<b>Happy Hunting Ground</b><br>Rahul Dravid's retirement has left <b>Sachin Tendulkar</b> as the most prolific at this ground among India's current crop – thanks to 709 runs in 16 innings, though his venue aggregate is some five runs less than his career average.

Ironically, <b>Shane Watson</b> – dropped for this match, has scored Australia's most Test runs in Chandigarh. <b>Michael Clarke</b>, meanwhile, averages a lowly 27.50 from two matches here.

Bowling-wise, <b>Harbhajan Singh</b>'s two dozen wickets in six matches is second to none in the Indian squad. <b>Ishant Sharma</b>, too, has cherished nine scalps in three games.

<b>Weather Forecast</b><br>Partly cloudy conditions and the chance of rain characterises the prediction for the the first three days, after which sunny and dry will be the prevalence. No genuine breeze to speak of, and rather typical of the sub-continent this time of year.

<b>Conclusion</b><br>Eager to have the surface recover from a long domestic season in preparation for the Indian Premier League, curator Daljit Singh will want to strike the right balance for Test match cricket.

Last year's deck was a veritable pearler, which assured a superb result, and 2013 – with the same opposition involved – demands the same. Singh is known for producing wickets that keep both batsmen and bowlers interested. Although a decent amount of runs are usually scored, there's always something in it for the quicks up front and the spinners later on in the game.

Tired pitches shy of much living grass are the norm in India this year, with domestic batsman cashing in. And therein lies the challenge for the groundsman, to buck the expectation. Australia will hope for some green, given the propensity to field a seam attack superior to their spin ranks.

Batting first if triumphant at the toss isn't necessarily the way to go, given the varied results afforded to the last six captains to do so: only two wins. Overhead conditions, expected to be reasonably cloudy, on the first morning will have a say in the decision.

Thankfully, as acknowledged by Pandove, Singh and Henriques, this pitch won't be a rank turner – as dictated by Dhoni in Chennai and Hyderabad. The key, again, will be in the balance between bat and ball.

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