Pitch report – M.Chinnaswamy Stadium

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Pitch report for the second Test between India and New Zealand in Bangalore.

<b>Established:</b> 1969<br><b>Capacity:</b> 42000<br><b>Floodlights:</b> Yes<br><b>Ends:</b> Pavilion End, BEML End<br><b>Home Team:</b> Karnataka, Bangalore Royal Challengers<br><b>Head Curator:</b> Narayan Raju<br><b>Test History:</b> 19 Tests (5 home wins, 6 away wins, 8 draws)<br><b>Last 10 Tests:</b> 3 home wins, 4 away wins, 3 draws<br><b>Last 10 Tosses:</b> 10 bat first (3 wins, 3 draws, 4 losses)

<b>Overview</b><Br>The ground used to go by the name of Karnataka State Cricket Association Stadium, but was renamed to honour former BCCI president and Karnataka administrator M. Chinnaswamy. There is no shortage of famous attractions in and around the stadium as it is flanked by Cubbon Park, a popular tourist destination in Bangalore, and Mahatma Gandhi Road, one of the city's busiest roads.

The stadium became cricket's 47th Test venue when India hosted the West Indies in 1974. The match also marked the debuts of Windies greats Viv Richards and Gordon Greenidge, and later saw the debut century of Australia skipper Michael Clarke and India spinner Anil Kumble's 400th Test wicket.

<b>Last Time Out</b><br>The last time a Test was played here was in October 2010, between India and Australia, which the home side won by seven wickets, thanks to a massive double century by Sachin Tendulkar in the first innings.

Australia won the toss and chose to bat first. They got off to a good start, with Shane Watson and Simon Katich putting on 99 in their opening stand. After losing wickets at regular intervals, Tim Paine and Marcus North added 149 for the sixth wicket, with North making 128 in the end.

Watson, Paine and Ricky Ponting all contributed with fifties on a good batting track to take the score to 478 all out, with Harbhajan Singh the star performer with four wickets, while Pragyan Ojha took three.

India's reply got off to a poor start, with Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid falling before the score had reached 40. It required a superb third wicket stand of 308 between Tendulkar, who made 214, and Murali Vijay (139) to take the side to their next wicket on 346.

The rest of the batting order did not contribute much to the score, but 30s from Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni, not to mention the 40 extras the Aussies gave away, made sure they were all out with a lead of 17, on 495.

Australia's second innings was literally half as good as the first, as they were all out for 223, with only Punter making a decent score of 72. The Indian bowlers shared the spoils, with Ojha, Harbhajan, Sreesanth and Zaheer all getting in on the action.

This left India needing 207 runs to win, and they only lost three wickets in chasing it down, Tendulkar scoring a fifty and Cheteshwar Pujara (hero of the first Test in this series against New Zealand) adding 72. In fact, they went about it at ODI pace, needing only 45 overs to score the runs.

<b>Happy Hunting Ground</b><Br>Sachin Tendulkar is by far the highest scorer at this ground, thanks to his 214 in the last match here, as well as 600-odd other runs over eight matches. He averages nearly 69 here, while Virender Sehwag is also no slouch in Bangalore, averaging 48 and also the owner of a double ton at the venue.

As for the Black Caps, the last time they played here was in 1995, so none of the current players would have been even remotely ready to leave school, let alone play cricket for their country. For the record, the Kiwis lost that match by eight wickets, with only Stephen Fleming making any runs.

As for the bowlers, Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan are the best of the current players here, with Ishant taking 12 wicket in two matches at an average of 21. Zaheer, more likely of the two to play this week, has 11 wickets and a best innings of 5/91.

<b>They Said…</b><br>Black Caps fast bowler Doug Bracewell on Wednesday: "At the moment the wicket looks nice and has a bit of grass on it, but I expect it to be removed before the Test begins. The overcast weather here looks to be helping us and it might work in our favour."

Groundskeeper Narayan Raju said: "There is a tinge of grass on the wicket. But overcast conditions are prevailing here which will decide the course of the match. If the conditions improve, the spectators can witness an interesting battle between bat and ball."

Tendulkar, after the Test against Australia: "It was obviously going to be difficult on a track going up and down. Pujara showed tremendous character and his partnership with Vijay was very crucial one."

Dhoni after that game: "As a captain I keep losing tosses which means the bowlers have to come in and bowl on flat tracks. But they have bowled really well. In both games the first innings was high scoring and it changed in second innings. In India you can just lose a Test in two sessions."

<b>Weather Forecast</b><br>According to reports, there will be cloud overhead for all five days, though only day five, Tuesday, looks like it could be greatly affected, so the teams will hope to have the game over by then.

Friday and Saturday have overcast conditions predicted, which will help the fast bowlers, but there will be sunny intervals to help the batsmen on the flat-ish track. Sunday seems to be headed for rain for most of the day, before thundershowers on day four.

<b>Conclusion</b><Br>If the weather plays along and allows to the game to continue for more that half the match, there could be a result, though which way that will go is tough to tell. The track is a good one for batting when the sun shines, with the lowest team score as high as 195, and a top innings score of 626.

India's form will make them the firm favourites, unless New Zealand's batsmen can find a way to combat the spinners they were so easily defeated by in Hyderabad. With R Ashwin and Ojha in operation again, it will be tricky for the Kiwis, as the top wicket takers at this ground are Anil Kumble and Harbhajan, spinners both.

India's superior batting line up should secure big runs if they win the toss and bat first (as people almost always do), and if they don't one imagines the bowlers will do the job, provided there is enough time. One suspects the demoralised Kiwis will be doing their rain dances until Friday morning.

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