03 August, 2021

22 -yard Plot

22 -yard Plot

THE three-and-a-half-day pitched battle at Motera was fought on a dusty, crumbling track that could put a dried-up mud wrestling pit to shame. Understandably, it didn’t have cool cat Cronje merely purring in bemusement. If anything, those within earshot of the South African skipper at the end of that infamous dust bowl downer swore they heard an angry, grating growl: "This is the worst pitch we’ve ever played a Test match on." Hansie Cronje, a man not known to be easily ruffled, wasn’t talking mean for no reason.

So when the shell-shocked South Africans arrived at cricket’s Garden of Eden for the second Test of the ongoing McDowell series, desperately in need of salvation, they got it. In the form of a firm, grassy, bouncy pitch that was a far, far cry from the Ahmedabad atrocity. As Cronje’s cricketing cronies feasted their eyes on the 22-yard strip in the middle of the lush green Eden Gardens arena, smiles returned to faces. Allan Donald, a bowler who can coax life out of a foam mattress, allowed himself the luxury of an...

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