Different takes on same pitch
The mock comparisons had begun half-way through the first session itself on Day One. Some called it Nagpur, others Ahmedabad. The heat and humidity on Thursday morning only added fuel to the claims. There were those who even wondered, rather loudly, whether the Indians had landed in Durban with a custom-made pitch in tow - one imported from back home.
Yes, the ball wasn't coming on as expected or hitting the bat as hard as it generally does in South Africa. Probably it was just the Indian top-order making the pitch look like a belter. Or maybe the fatigued Dale Steyn, his confidence at a rare low, and a gingerly Morne Morkel just hadn't learned from their mistakes in the first Test. At least according to the sceptics.
Morne Mokel, at the end of the first day, said it played like a subcontinental track. Even the virtual world was taking digs at the Kingsmead wicket. "Same pitch was used for the Timeless Test...10 days later...they caught the ship..." tweeted Pat Symcox. The conspiracy theories couldn't have been too far.
And before long, N Srinivasan's name propped up. Obviously he had influenced the wicket. It was his phone-call that had forced the curator to shave off the grass and give it a more Indian finish. You couldn't help but wonder about Srinivasan's whereabouts when India were busy losing 4-0 in England and Australia.
The fact is that the South Africans probably never expected a fight from the visitors, that the No.2 Test team will be no match to the firepower of the South African pace attack.
Interestingly, not many were complaining about the lack of pace on the pitch on Friday. How could they? What with Steyn steaming in, hitting batsmen on the chest, Ajinkya Rahane twice on the head. The skies still looked as bright as the previous day. There might have been some extra moisture retained from the overnight rain, but still it was the same pitch, and Steyn was just making it look different. He was also proving that predicting the nature of pitch is a hazardous vocation.
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