Pitch report – Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium
We run the rule over the venue for the second Test between India and Australia in Hyderabad.
<b>Established:</b> 2004<br><b>Capacity:</b> 55,000<br><b>Floodlights:</b> Yes<br><b>Ends:</b> Pavilion End, North End<br><b>Home Team:</b> Hyderabad, Deccan Chargers<br><b>Test History:</b> 2 Test (1 win, 1 draw)<br><b>Toss History:</b> 2 batted first (1 win, 1 draw)
<b>Overview</b><br>With Eden Gardens preparing for the World Cup and renovations at Green Park delayed, the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, formerly known as the Visakha International Stadium, slipped in to host its first ever Test in 2010.
It is the primary cricket ground in Uppul, an eastern suburb of the city, stretching across 16 acres – and has endured some controversy over its relatively short existence.
Initially, the government changed the ground's name to honour a former Indian prime minister, leaving the HCA to financially compensate the contractors, Visaka Industries, after whom the stadium was originally named.
A week or so later, just days before what would have been its maiden first-class clash – between the touring Aussies and Mumbai – the oval was deemed unfit to play host to a senior clash.
However, the troubles have since been resolved, with the establishment of a modern, state-of-the-art facility, complemented by a ring of floodlight pylons erected in April 2008, serving the cricket-mad Hyderabad community well.
<b>Last Time Out</b><br>New Zealand's mental and physical capitulation on a pitch considerably less flat than the one witnessed two year prior brought a four-day finish, bouts of no play due to rain included, in 2012.
India's first-innings 438 on the back of Cheteshwar Pujara's century proved ample, as the tourists folded to 159 and 164 all out in the follow-on. Spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was named Man of the Match for his 12-for.
<b>Happy Hunting Ground</b><br>Unusually, a New Zealander in Brendon McCullum sports the most Test runs here. India's cause, however, is fronted by <b>Cheteshwar Pujara</b> – thanks to his 159 against the Black Caps last year.
The Australians, meanwhile, again have <b>Ravichandran Ashwin</b> to combat. The spinner fetched a match haul of a dozen wickets at this ground less than eight months ago.
<b>They Said</b><br>"I've played quite a bit of ODI and Twenty20 cricket here and in those matches, it's as close as you get to the Gabba around the world It's a beautiful wicket. There's true pace and bounce in the wicket so I'm not sure if we're going to get that exactly.Ã¢â‚¬Â¨ There's less chance of it being like the Gabba for a Test match. They obviously play very well in those conditions when the ball is turning. They've also got the makeup of the side to be able to make the most of those conditions as well. It would not surprise me if the wicket is a bit more conducive to spin bowling than fast bowling." – Australia all-rounder <b>Shane Watson</b>.
"When you come to the sub-continent, it's not like I am talking about only India, it could be Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh also, you need to have wickets that turn and that assist spinners. That's why they are special. Overall it feels the spinners will get some bounce and turn as the game progresses." – India captain <b> Mahendra Singh Dhoni</b>.
"This is a good wicket for Test cricket. There is good bounce for fast bowlers, even for spinners. If you bowl slower in the air, there is bounce and so far, it has played pretty well. I hope it will continue to play even better for the bowlers as the days go on. On the third and fourth days, it might spin, it might not. But definitely, there is bounce." – Indian spinner <b>Harbhajan Singh</b> after day two in 2010.
"The curator deserves to be given the contract to build national highways. Even our number 11 was playing like Sachin Tendulkar. So we should give all the credit to the groundsmen. – <b>Harbhajan</b> was not as flattering three days after his initial praise.
<b>Weather</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>Head groundsman YL Chandrasekhar endured some hard lessons from 2010's baptism of fire, when he incurred the wrath of Harbhajan and company's heavy criticism – and delivered a better track in 2012.
Seamer Chris Martin, last year, acknowledged that New Zealand's ability to swing the ball for prolonged periods will be key to their campaign, while, as ever, their batsmen needed to combat spin appropriately. Neither ambition brought reward, but certainly offers Australia example this week.
The Aussies, despite Mickey Arthur's conundrum and Michael Clarke's dilly-dallying, must play two specialist spinners – Nathan Lyon demands support in Xavier Doherty. Their seamers, meanwhile, will press for reverse swing in conditions that are likely to bring additional bounce too.
Batting first is usually the case on the sub-continent, but potentially cloudy skies and the promise of turn from day three onward might bring the alternative from the toss-winning captain.
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