Pitch report – Wankhede Stadium
We run the rule over the venue for the second and final Test between India and the West Indies in Mumbai, where all eyes will be on Sachin Tendulkar and conditions unaffected by the BCCI's interference.
<b>Established:</b> 1974<br><b>Capacity:</b> 45,000<br><b>Floodlights:</b> Yes<br><b>Ends:</b> Garware Pavilion End, Tata End<br><b>Home Team:</b> Mumbai<br><b>Curator:</b> Sudhir Naik<br><b>Test History:</b> 23 Tests (9 home wins, 7 away wins, 7 draws)<br><b>Last 10 Tests:</b> 4 home wins, 4 away wins, 2 draws<br><b>Last 10 tosses:</b> 7 batted first (5 wins, 1 loss, 1 draw,), 3 bowled first (2 wins, 1 draw)
<b>Overview</b><br>Mumbai is India's biggest city and its commercial and entertainment capital, home to both the Bombay Stock Exchange and Bollywood – India's famous film industry. The city's inhabitants and competitive <a href='http://www.paddypower.com/bet/cricket' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>cricket betting</b></a> stakes, indeed, go hand in hand.
It's certainly not short on tourist attractions, with Chowpatty Beach, the Gateway of India and the Colaba Causeway some of the more popular destinations for those visiting the city.
The Wankhede became Mumbai's third Test ground in the 1974-75 season after a dispute between the Cricket Club of India and the Bombay Cricket Association saw the latter move away from Brabourne Stadium and build their own facility in less than nine months.
The stands are named after famous Mumbai cricketers such as Vijay Merchant, Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar, while the ground was completely redeveloped ahead of the 2011 World Cup, when it hosted two group games and the final. Back to host Test cricket after its neighbouring Brabourne Stadium filled in during renovations, the Wankhede ended a five-year hiatus from the five-day game in 2011 – and added a modern-day element to a ground once stuck in a bygone era.
<b>Last Time Out</b><br>Outgunned in November 2012's series opener, England bounced back with a 10-wicket win in the second Test. The fixture ended early on its fourth day, as India's decision to field a lone specialist didn't work out. Spin, yes, claimed 28 of the 30 wickets to fall – but big centuries from Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen entirely countered an imbalanced home attack.
<b>Happy Hunting Ground</b><br>Indian batsmen, still playing, with a solid record at the Wankhede are a dying breed. <b>Sachin Tendulkar</b>, of course, fronts the pack – as he does almost everywhere else. His 847 runs in 18 innings have come at an average of 47.05, though the right-hander has scored one of his 51 Test centuries here.
Tendulkar's last two visits to the Wankhede, albeit for 2013 Indian Premier League fixtures, brought match-winning cameos against Sunrisers Hyderabad and the Kolkata Knight Riders.
Bowling-wise, the venue has naturally been good to India's spinners, <b>Ravichandran Ashwin</b> and <b>Pragyan Ojha</b> sporting 23 wickets in two matches between them here. India, in fact, only played one specialist seamer here last year. Ashwin and Ojha opened the attack in both innings.
<b>They Said</b><br> "I will be happy if Sachin gets a ton because I want that. I also want the century because he is our boy, Bombay boy. He has done so well all his career, so let people remember him forever because he made a century in his last match. He is good enough to do it himself. He does not need my help. This wicket is good enough for batting so that might automatically help him. It will be an emotional one, definitely, because I have seen him right from his first day in first-class cricket till the day he leaves the game. So not seeing him again will be difficult." – curator <b>Sudhir Naik</b> told <i>ESPNcricinfo</i>.
"But we have rules and norms to follow so my emotions will not get in the way of my work. I will be under no pressure for any match because my approach is simple. I have to prepare something which is good for cricket. My approach is I always prepare a sporting wicket. If I am correct, every Test match I have been the curator of has lasted till the fifth day, except the four-day Test against England in December 2012."
"The line-up is the one with which we have played the last three or four Test matches. We backed those guys and they did not perform as well as they did in the past. It is a two-match series so we have to look at the combination to make sure we still believe strongly that we can win here." – West Indies coach <b>Ottis Gibson</b>.
<b>Weather Forecast</b><br>Hot throughout and entirely sunny for the first three days, the forecast will certainly influence the toss, which really should see a decision to bat first. Partly clloudy conditions are expected over days four and five, aiding the seamers' bid for reverse swing.
<b>Conclusion</b><br>More than five years ticked over before the Wankhede Stadium hosted its return Test 24 months ago, when initially placid conditions bucked the norms of yesteryear's competitiveness. The same is expected this time around.
The coastal placement of the Wankhede Stadium affords swing bowlers some assistance during the early stages of each day. The deck, traditionally, has been conducive to big totals, yet it does help the slow bowlers across the last couple of days.
The pitch is expected to stay firmer than the abrasive surface in Kolkata, which Darren Sammy suggested looked like a fourth-day pitch on day one. Good carry initially and eventual deterioration should make for five days of quality Test cricket in Mumbai.
Playing two specialist spinners is certainly called for, as is batting first if triumphant at the toss and the West Indies simply can't ignore Marlon Samuels' burgeoning role with the ball. The nature of the deck, indeed, is primed for Ashwin and Ojha to continue their prolific partnership. The latter, particularly, sports impressive <a href='http://www.paddypower.com/bet/cricket/cricket-test-matches/India-V-West-Indies-6073542.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>odds of 5/2 to take the most wickets in the match</b></a>.
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