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Work begins on Nehru Stadium turf

Guwahati, June 20: The preparation for the December One Day International between India and England here started today with the Assam Cricket Association (ACA) beginning the much-needed pitch re-laying work at Nehru Stadium.

Unlike in the past, the pitch for the match will be a totally new one developed with the help of the latest technology.

Earlier, it was only the top layer that was replaced every time a one-dayer was held in Guwahati.

The pitch first laid in 1963 and one of the three re-laid in 1978, have become purely flat tracks with no bite or pace in them.

The work began under the supervision of the BCCI pitch committee chairman, Daljit Singh, and two of the senior BCCI curators from the state — Sunil Baruah and Ratul Das.

Both Baruah and Das attended a clinic in Rajkot recently, which involved an in-depth study of the latest technologies used in pitch development.

The ACA has proposed to complete the re-laying of the three-wicket pitch within a period of two months if the weather condition does not affect work.

“This is a very encouraging gesture the ACA has shown towards the promotion of cricket. It is conventional for most of us in the country to take to pitch and ground preparation with merely a month left before the matches. I am quite impressed by the ACA’s early initiative to develop a new pitch for the ODI which is also going to help the ACA in the long run,” Singh said.

Singh felt the drainage system at Nehru Stadium was “very poor.” He said an underground drainage system would have to be laid around the pitch to drain out the excess water.

“I have advised the ACA to increase the size of the pitch surrounded by the underground drainage system. The soil is of good quality, but the grass will have to be replaced by Bermuda Selection-I grass which we recommend across the country because of the hot and humid climatic condition accompanied by heavy rainfall— a climate that suits this variety of grass,” the veteran curator said. Bermuda grass is very durable and can withstand a lot of wear and tear.

About the technology to be used for the pitch, Singh said the latest one would be applied.

“Earlier, we used to go for deep foundation with a lot of boulders, but those things are felt to be redundant these days and we are going for the new methods,” Singh said.

The ACA has already initiated steps to use the best available soil. “We are seeking help from authorities concerned to find out the best soil and get it tested properly,” ACA secretary Bikash Baruah said.

About the new cricket stadium in Barsapara ground here, he felt the site had the “potential for one of the best cricket infrastructure in the country”.

“I am happy the ACA is developing a new stadium exclusively for cricket. I have given them some suggestions regarding certain things I have learnt from my own experience and I hope the ACA will take all possible steps to make the stadium one of the best. The BCCI is also providing ample support towards infrastructure development and in providing the latest equipment which I hope the ACA will make best use of,” Singh said.

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