By Ashish Shukla
Northampton: Aug 5, 2011
Rattled by humiliating defeats in the first two Tests against England, India will have to deal with an unpredictable Edgbaston pitch in the third match as they seek to retain their number one ranking with a win.
Ever since the outfield was relaid and a new drainage system was installed in winter, the Edgbaston pitch has done strange things and the visitors can't wait to have a first-hand look at the track which occasionally has batsmen quaking in their boots this season.
Matters came to a head when Warwickshire were docked eight points after the pitch panel of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) found the turf as poor because of excessive uneven bounce.
Infact, two of the visiting Worcestershire batsmen -- former England batsman Vikram Solanki and Ben Scott -- were seriously injured by the errant pitch when they visited Edgbaston to play Warwickshire earlier in the season.
While Solanki was taken to hospital for ducking a short ball from paceman Boyd Rankin, wicketkeeper Scott was hit on his fingers as Worcestershire, on 109 for seven at that stage, effectively conceded since they had no other fit batsmen left.
Warwickshire county club has gone for an overhaul of the ground, not only installing a new drainage system and relaying the outfield but also constructing a new four-storey grandstand last winter.
The pitch this season, it's said, has become unpredictable since chief groundsman Steve Rouse has found it difficult to leave the right level of moisture. On occasions, it tends to get extremely difficult for batsmen with its pace, bounce and unevenness and sometimes it helps the batters and spinners later on during a game.
The news would heighten anxiety among the Indians who are looking to make a comeback after suffering humiliating losses by 196 and 319 runs in the first two Tests.
Most of the Indian batsmen have been outclassed by England's pace attack which could be at full strength at Edgbaston since Chris Tremlett was missing from the roster in the last Test at Trent Bridge.
England team management has made it clear they would prefer a lively pitch in the two remaining Tests at Edgbaston and The Oval.
Off-spinner Graeme Swann has already expressed his desire to secure a 4-0 scorecard from the four-match series. England need to win by a 2-0 or 3-1 margin to grab the mantle of being world's best test side from India.
Indians, on the other hand, have been ravaged by injuries and poor form of its batsmen. But for the trinity of Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar, most other batsmen have been found wanting in will and technique to counter the difficult conditions and aggressive opponents.