IND vs ENG 5th Test: Dharamsala curator leaves pitch selection to Indian team | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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India vs England 5th Test: Dharamsala curator to prepare pitch after discussing with Indian team management - Report

Mar 05, 2024 03:01 PM IST

India vs England 5th Test: The Dharmsala pitch curator is set to have lengthy discussions with India captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid.

Untimely rain, dipping temperatures and a completely different landscape are set to add a different texture to the India vs England fifth and final Test match. The series which has so far been played in very comfortable weather conditions in the Western, Southern and Eastern parts of India, moves far north to Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh for the final fixture. The HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala has the highest altitude among all international venues in India and early March weather conditions in Himachal make it even more interesting.

India's captain Rohit Sharma, coach Rahul Dravid and BCCI chief selector Ajit Agarkar(ANI)
India's captain Rohit Sharma, coach Rahul Dravid and BCCI chief selector Ajit Agarkar(ANI)

It has been raining at regular intervals in Dharamsala for the past few days. Barring Monday, when the weather Gods allowed the groundstaff to prepare the surface and the playing area, it has been pretty wet due to regular splashes of rain. Rain during April and May is nothing unusual in this part of the world but it is certainly a bit early for the first week of March. The result? Temperatures plummeting below 5 degrees.

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England won't complain. This is as homely as they can feel in India at this time of the year. But where does this leave the pitch? The curators haven't got much time to work on the 22 yards due to the rains. They still have a couple of days before the fifth Test and if the rain stays away then that should be enough for them to provide a decent strip for these two outstanding teams.

Dharamsala pitch likely to be a slow turner

The next couple of days are crucial. According to an Indian Express report, the curator is set to have lengthy discussions with the Indian team management headed by captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid to finalise the nature of the surface. Changing the behaviour of the surface in a matter of two days may be a bit difficult but how much grass to keep on it or when to water it (if at all) can have a great impact on the final outcome.

Dravid and Rohit reportedly reached Dharamsala in the wee hours of Tuesday. The other members of the team had arrived early. After attending an event in Bilaspur, Dravid and Rohit are likely to sit with the curators.

The pitches in this series have been anything but rank turners. It is likely to be the same even this time around. The pitch - In Hyderabad in the first Test - which offered the most turn, resulted in an India defeat. Since then, the team management decided to opt for a traditional Indian pitch. Vizag, Rajkot and Ranchi were good for batting in the first two days and started to play their tricks as the Test match progressed.

The Dharamsala pitch is likely to be similar. It is set to be a slow turner. It might not offer variable bounce as the Ranchi pitch did due to its wide cracks but it will surely get difficult to bat from Day 3 onwards.

India made a couple of changes to their squad for the final Test. Jasprit Bumrah, who was rested from the previous Test, has rejoined the squad and is certain to come back into the XI. All-rounder Washington Sundar was released to take part in the Ranji Trophy semi-final.

The big question for India, however, will be their No.4 batter. Rajat Patidar has not scored in the three Tests that he has played so far. With KL Rahul still injured, there is only Devudutt Padikkal as backup. If the team management decides to pick him, the left-hander will be India's fifth debutant of the series.

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