Chattogram's unpredictable pitch: will it get better or worse for the stick?

Chattogram’s unpredictable pitch: will it get better or worse for the stick?

Over 400 Indians in total in the third ODIfour days ago, in Chattogram made everyone believe that we would have a mattress topper for the Test match too. No. There was actually a contest between the bat and the ball.
With both varying pace and bounce, playing on the line required careful attention. Cheteshwar Pujara, who hit 90 of 203, said hitters never feel set on this type of pitch as Taijul Islamthe highest wicket taker at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadiumsaid they couldn’t really predict how the surface would transform in the next few days.
Taijul’s observation is based on how conditions in Chattogram sometimes have an uncommon tendency to improve for the stick as a test progresses. Of course, there have been games where, like most venues in the subcontinent, the pitch wears down and becomes very difficult to score. But also times when it stops spinning after playing like a rabid turner for the first four days. With Chattogram, you can never tell, really.
When it comes to pitches in Bangladesh, the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka dominates the conversation. Then there is this one. Over the past five years, teams have scored between 242 and 374 points in the first day of a test match at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium. India’s 278 falls somewhere in the middle of this list. But the six wickets they lost represent Bangladesh’s best return after a day’s play. Conclusion: This is the closest thing to a sports ground in Bangladesh (despite some demerit points).

Taijul, whose three wickets on Wednesday included two superb deliveries to knock out Virat Kohli and Pujara, said it best. “There is definitely a difference between the two wickets between the third ODI and this test. If you look at the pitches from the last two or three years, the pitch is improving day by day. We can’t really predict much on this pitch It’s hard to say, there are no big spinning deliveries and the ball just doesn’t go straight.

“And although it was the first day, the behavior of the wicket changed. There was a different behavior with the new ball. There were fewer runs even when fewer wickets fell on some of the first days But today they made more runs, but we would have been in a better position if we had taken a few more wickets.”

At the start of the day, TV commentator Sanjay Manjrekar observed that the pitch had decent grass cover but not enough to qualify as a green top. He felt the grass was there just to bind the ground; to prevent it from cracking too much too soon. He expected India to face three setters, but both teams opted for the same combination – two setters and three spinners – and the game was all the more compelling.

“There was a variable bounce from first or second,” Pujara said. “The odd ball stayed low. The same happened with the second new ball as well. The odd ball stayed low. Hopefully we try to make the most of it.

“Once the ball gets old it gets a little easier. The bowlers get tired too. They can’t play in the same area all the time. We know as batters that the first 20-30 overs are always important with the Kookaburra ball.Things are a little easier when you go through this phase.

“But you’re never set on that kind of pitch; you have to concentrate hard for longer periods of time. A ball over the top spins [big] regularly. You can’t relax as a drummer. It’s still a tough field for hitters. I think it will continue to get worse.”

Chattogram wasn’t always like this. In fact, for a team that either plays green mambas when they go overseas or dust bowls when they go to Dhaka, this pitch was the only place they could come to score heaps of points . Of all the places that have hosted at least 50 first-class matches in Bangladesh, this venue has the highest batting average (33.06). For context, this figure for Shere Bangla is only 29.34.

It was also good for opposing teams. England appreciated the way it offered them pace and bounce in 2016 and Afghanistan were only too happy to push Bangladesh into their own trap in 2019.
Bangladesh captains and coaches began to discourage one-way throws. They often suggest, directly in the case of Russell Domingo, that the team should play on better grounds at home so that all skills are involved, and that they are not just seen as a one-dimensional effects-based team when playing away. Chattogram seems to have answered the call. At least for now.

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