A few days back Sachin Tendulkar played his final Ranji match at a nondescript location like Lahli. The master played an exceptional innings and guided Mumbai to a thrilling win against a determined Haryana team. As a cricket enthusiast what caught one’s eyes was the amount of lateral movement that the seam bowlers generated. This was not a typical Indian pitch that was either flat or assisting the spinners from after the lunch. One felt that such a ground was absolutely fantastic as far as preparation against the moving ball, which is commonplace in countries such as England and New Zealand and to a certain extent in Australia and South Africa. In fact, there are several grounds in India where the national team can prepare or where fast bowling academies can be established:
Dharamshala: The highest cricket ground of the world has a pitch that is conducive to seam bowling and the conditions there are ideal for cricket all around the world. All these factors could prove handy for India in case it is preparing for tours to England and New Zealand.
Mohali: The pitch here is a true one and in the winter season should offer plenty of bounce for the fast bowlers. The pitch could be spruced up with some grass and this way it could provide batsman with good preparation for conditions they are like to encounter in countries such as Australia and South Africa.
Nagpur: Nagpur once used to be one of the quickest wickets in India. It was here that Varun Aaron came to national notice with a ball that was timed at excess of 150 kmph and Justin Langer was reminded of Australia in a test in 2004. If the pitch can be brought back to those levels it could provide useful practice for tours to Australia and New Zealand.
Jaipur: Ever since Rahul Dravid took over as the captain of the Rajasthan Royals outfit he has stressed on a hard and quick wicket to suit the seam bowlers in his team. In case the team is looking to get ready for tours to South Africa and Australia it could be a handy venue.
Kolkata: Eden Gardens is located close to River Ganga and still affords some swing for quicker bowlers, especially during the winter season. It may not be as quick as some of the other wickets that have been mentioned in the piece but still is a viable alternative in case the time is less.
Delhi: Like Kolkata the conditions during the winter are encouraging for the faster bowlers. In a one day match staged between India and Pakistan last year during December-January, Pakistan shot India out for a meager score only to capitulate for an even lower score.
In addition to these grounds the Indian team can prepare at most of the grounds in north India. The BCCI should develop the facilities at Kashmir and northeastern India because of the year round good weather that is excellent for preparing for tours to countries like England and New Zealand.