In the eye of an unnecessary storm last year, Green Park curator Shiv Kumar has avoided meeting Mahendra Singh Dhoni after India thumped Sri Lanka in the second Test in Kanpur.
Kumar vividly recalls the brouhaha that broke out after it came to light that Dhoni after India had beaten South Africa inside three days in April 2008 and his team-mates had tipped the groundsmen Rs 10,000 after the match.
An innocuous gesture, followed at every venue irrespective of results, Kumar and the groundsmen were shocked at reports that claimed they had been "rewarded" for making a beast of a track that swallowed the South Africans.
"That episode fresh in mind, this time I avoided meeting Dhoni after the match. Once bitten twice shy, you may say," Kumar said.
"I'm happy, this time there is no controversy even though the Test ended inside four days," he said, relief writ large on his face.
Asked if this time too the groundsmen were tipped, Kumar said, "Now don't ask me that. I do not know."
More than anything, Kumar said, what warmed his heart was kind words from batting legend Sunil Gavaskar. "I came to the commentary box once and he said this is one of the best Test pitches in the country. This compliment will stay with me for long," he said.
Three Indian batsmen got centuries in the first innings, Sri Lankan spinner Rangana Herath got a five-for and Indian pacer S Sreesanth also grabbed five first innings wickets using reverse swing to good effect.
Dhoni and his opposite number Kumar Sangakkara too had only good words to say about the track. Sangakkara called it a very good wicket.
Dhoni said, "The wicket was quite good. Nothing even close to what we played on in Ahmedabad. The grass was kept on the track throughout. It started to turn a bit on the first day and kept a little low."
Kumar said there was lot of pressure on him and the groundsmen. "The last Test had ended in three days and it should not happen again, Test cricket doesn't need another draw all sort of things mounted pressure on us. I was quite tense, hoping for the best. Fortunately, the strip played out just as we had thought and everyone seems happy," he said.
Looking back, Kumar felt Virender Sehwag made best use of the track. "Remember, Sehwag was on just three after 19 balls, which is so unlike him. But as I had predicted, the ball would move in the morning hour and once you see through it, batting would be easy. Once Sehwag survived that early hour, he was his usual self again, tearing apart the Lankan attack (with a 131-run knock off just 122 balls).
According to the pitch doctor, results are important to keep Test cricket alive. "Test cricket desperately needs results to remain relevant. At times, curators want to play safe and dish out tracks where draw is the only possible result. Green Park was infamous for boring draws but now we had results in four of the last five Tests played here," Kumar added.