The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sourav’s team upset with pitch treatment

Hamilton: The Indian team is reported to be very upset at the apparent preferential treatment to the home side by the groundsmen at the Westpac Park when they attempted to dry up the pitch in a bid to make it “suitable” for batting on Saturday.

The Indians complained that the ground staff delayed putting on covers on the pitch for a good 40 minutes after the day’s play with the visitors placed at a pathetic 92 for eight in their first innings.

They felt it was done to allow the pitch get as much sunshine as possible for it to dry out and become a better batting track when the New Zealand team comes out to bat.

It upset the Indians to the extent that skipper Sourav Ganguly, coach John Wright and manager N.R. Choudhary walked to the middle and drew the attention of the ground staff, before calling upon Match Referee Mike Proctor to intervene.

The arrival of Proctor did the trick and the track was covered. It, however, did not please the Indians or the Match Referee himself who was heard describing the incident as “shameful”.

The incident only compounded India’s woes, after the visitors had agreed to a start of play in the hope that Sourav would call the toss correctly and put New Zealand in the same predicament in which they found themselves later.

Sourav had gambled on the start of the match even though he could see the pitch was extremely damp and full of moisture and the slushy outfield was hardly fit to play.

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming tried to play down the conditions and insisted that one should get on with the game.

“The two teams are not overtly sensitive about the pitch and want to go ahead with the game,” he said.

Sourav was not available for comment but it is learnt the Indians did not want to make any official protest on the incident. Drawing the attention of the Match Referee was enough.

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