It is the Eden Gardens pitch that seems to be giving the Indian team more headaches than their team line-up or the opposition.
It is learnt that Kolkata [ Images ] curator Prabir Mukherjee is intent of dishing out a sporting wicket and is not giving in to demands from the Indian team to shave off the grass so that the spinners can come into the game early.
Understandably India [ Images ] captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni [ Images ], desperate for a series leveling victory, made his frustration clear on the eve of the Test match, saying it was natural for all host countries to prepare tracks suited to their style of play rather than the opposition.
"Personally I believe a lot of emphasis is being given on creating sporting wickets. It is not written in a book that a sporting wicket must have grass or there should be bounce for the fast bowlers. I think a sporting wicket one where there is something for the bowlers and something for the batsman too at the same time," Dhoni said in Kolkata on Saturday on the eve of the second and final Test.
"When there is a turning track it is challenging. Every country specializes in something like when you go to South Africa [ Images ] you can see bounce and seam movement, you go to England [ Images ] there is plenty of swing and same with New Zealand [ Images ]. Every country is special for its own thing and we are special because the ball turns and there is bounce for the spinners," he added.
Having examined the wicket along with his coach and a few senior players, the India captain believes that the pitch would suit the seamers more than the spinners.
"There is a bit of grass on the wicket so I think the seamers will get a bit of help. There is no stands on one side of the ground so you can see a bit of breeze going across the field so there will be a bit of help for the seamers. It looks quite hard but at the same time we will have to see the wear and tear too. I don't see much turn happening on the first two days," he said.
Dhoni also seemed relieved at having VVS Laxman [ Images ] back in the team at one of his favourites venues. The Hyderabadi right-hander boasts a splendid record at the Eden Gardens, having scored 898 runs in eight games at an average of 81.63, including three hundreds and three fifties. It was at this venue that Laxman scripted India's historic triumph against Australia [ Images ] in March 2001 with a classical innings of 281 as India scored a thrilling victory after being asked to follow-on.
"VVS is an important part of our batting line-up so it is good to have him back in the side especially in the slot that he bats. He rotates the strike and is quite capable of hitting the boundaries whenever he wants so it is good have him back in the side," he said.
But India captain made it clear that his team would still go in with four bowlers despite the hosts struggling to get wickets in the first Test at Nagpur.
"If your batsmen don't perform when you are going in with five bowlers it means your batting line up becomes a bit weak. So when you seven batsmen you expect to put up a big score and then the four bowlers generally get the job done.
"We have always been comfortable with four bowlers because it has worked for us. If you have an all-rounder in the side that makes it very easy but we don't have that option," he added.
Dhoni said the toss played a crucial role in South Africa's victory in Nagpur and believes that if his team would have won the toss, they could have done the same.
"One thing was really important was the toss because on that kind of wicket the toss becomes crucial. As the game progresses the wicket gets slower and lower, it gets better for the bowlers to get the reverse swing going, not to forget the spinning option.
"I think the first day was the best day for the batsmen and they batted patiently, kept the good balls out. Overall, I would say that the toss was crucial because if we would have batted on that kind of wicket and if we would have got off to a good start the good would have got over much before than it did," said the India captain.
Dhoni also threw his weight behind his main spinner Harbhajan Singh [ Images ], who struggled to make an impression during the Nagpur Test on a wicket offering considerable amount of turn. Harbhajan took two for 166 in 46 overs, having bowled just one maiden over in the first Test, to follow up on a disappointing performance in the two-Test series against Bangladesh last month.
"The bowlers can have off days, it can happen to everyone. He is still your best bowler and he remains the best. So we will go with the best whether we are playing with one spinner or two spinners. We all know who it is so we will go in with the best spinner," he said.