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‘I’ve come to learn from Mukherjee’

Eden curator Prabir Mukherjee (right) with Ashish Bhowmick, East Zone's representative on the BCCI's grounds and pitches committee, at the Eden, on Thursday. A Telegraph picture

Calcutta: Ashish Bhowmick, the East Zone representative on the Board’s grounds and pitches committee, claimed on Thursday that his visit to the Eden, ahead of the third India-England Test from December 5, was purely a “routine” affair and not at all related to supervising the preparation of the wicket.

Bhowmick did about an hour-long inspection of the pitch with Eden curator Prabir Mukherjee. “I would only say that I’ve come here to learn about pitch-related matters from Mr Mukherjee, who has been a guide to me. I simply cannot imagine having ego-related issues with him,” Bhowmick said.

Dismissing talks about his supervisory role, Bhowmick added: “Reports suggesting that I have come here for supervising and overseeing the preparation of the track are simply false... It’s just a routine visit from my side. I’ve come to do my duty. That’s it.”

For the moment, the official version of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) too, in this regard, tallies with Bhowmick’s statements.

“In every centre, the chief curator of the concerned zone visits the venue prior to an international match, be it a Test, a one-dayer or a T20 International… It’s the same in this case. Besides, Ashish wants to learn and gain experience from such a senior curator like Mr Mukherjee,” CAB joint-secretary Subir Ganguly clarified.

However, well-placed sources said that Bhowmick has been sent by the BCCI to observe whether the pitch is being prepared in accordance with the preferences of Team India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

“He (Bhowmick) will report to (BCCI chief curator) Daljit Singh regularly on whether Mukherjee is going by the wishes of the Board and the Indian team management. That’s the reason he has been sent more than a week before the Test.

“Also, there will be inputs from his side as well,” the source said.

Meanwhile, it is also learnt that the wicket had been watered on Wednesday — as opposed to the wishes of the home team — though mere rolling was all that the groundsmen did this morning.

Incidentally, when Daljit had come for inspection last Sunday, the moisture content in the pitch was relatively high. After having requested Mukherjee and other groundsmen to produce a track that favours India, Daljit had told the media that the pitch would surely provide Dhoni and Co. with the home advantage.

But despite the chief curator’s requests, Mukherjee had later asserted that the pitch “would definitely be watered” in due course of time.