After making Adam and the world, God decided to rest. He appointed Adam to assign names to all the animals. Adam enjoyed doing it, but got bored after a while and requested God for companionship. Thus, Eve was born. Adam and Eve loved each other and resided in the Garden of Eden with other animals. Until one day, Eve plucked an apple from the Tree of Knowledge, which led to the doom of humanity.
There is a possibility that Ganguly may have to bear the responsibility of plucking that ‘forbidden apple’ of preparing a bowler-friendly wicket at Eden Gardens. Though there was much talk of preparing fast and bouncy pitches for the India-Sri Lanka series as means of preparation for the upcoming South Africa tour, the poor performance of the Indian batsmen in the first innings is now being attributed to the ‘sporting’ Eden Gardens pitch.
Ganguly has always been an advocate of making the game fairer for the bowlers. While he was the captain of India or when he was commentating, he always believed that the game was heavily skewed in the favour of the batsmen. He felt that cricket needed to be altered in a manner such that fans could witness a fierce battle between bat and ball.
He may not have been able to accomplish his aim during his playing days – but as an administrator, he has certainly played his part in spicing up the game.
The India-Sri Lanka Test series was considered to be a one-sided affair, given the difference between the sides on paper. However, the Test match turned out to be a riveting encounter between bat and ball. In fact, the very first ball which led to the downfall of KL Rahul was a sign of the things to come.
By 2015, the Eden Gardens pitch had become very slow – and keeping low had become its second nature. After the demise of the veteran administrator Jagmohan Dalmiya, Sourav became the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) and was determined for an overhaul. He ensured that the Eden pitch was re-laid and made a lot quicker and bouncier.
After the pitch was re-laid, India played its first match against New Zealand at Eden Gardens. In that match, the uneven bounce of the deck troubled many players. Shikhar Dhawan suffered a sustained thumb injury after being hit twice on his bottom hand. However, Bhuvneshwar took a five-for in the first innings, and ultimately, India walked away with a comfortable 178-run victory.
India’s victory brushed all the criticism of the Eden pitch under the carpet. Virat went on to term the pitch as a ‘brilliant test wicket’, and that all was well and good at the end.
This time around as well, the pitch at Eden Gardens was the centre of attraction. It further came into limelight when MS Dhoni, taking out time from his ad shoot, went to Eden Gardens to inspect the pitch. When the two teams reached Kolkata, the pitch they found resembled more like the pitch of Lord’s than that of any in the subcontinent.
The green top, accompanied by rain and overcast conditions made life increasingly tough for the batsmen. The Lankans, after winning the toss, took note of the conditions and put India to bat, and the hosts were bundled out for a meagre 172.
The poor performance of the Indian batsmen in the first innings again triggered a conversation about the pitch. Being the CAB president, the onus of the pitch lay on the shoulders of Ganguly as it had been prepared under his guidance by the curator Sujan Mukherjee. It will now be interesting to hear from the team management what they have to say about Eden’s pitch after the end of this match.
A version of this post was first published here.