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Indian curator lifts lid on pitch 'trap' amid Australia Test series uproar

An Indian curator has exposed a stunning truth as controversy rages ahead of the Test series against Australia.

Pictured right, Australia captain Pat Cummins inspects the pitch in Nagpur before the first Test against India.
A former curator in India has lifted the lid on some of the dark arts around preparing a pitch for visiting teams. Pic: Getty

A former Indian Test curator has lifted the lid on some of the methods employed to fine-tune pitches to assist the home team, revealing the humble garden hose and misleading dust patches are just a couple of the key weapons used to "trap" unsuspecting visiting teams.

As debate rages over the deck presented to the Australians ahead of the first Test in Nagpur on Thursday – with accusations bare patches have been deliberately prepared outside off-stump to negate the visitors' batch of left-handers – the ex-curator admitted to "designing" tracks to confuse overseas teams.

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"These spots would be generally hard to spot by visiting teams because what happens is the top layer is usually rough and the bottom layer will be hard," the curator, who declined to be named, told the Indian Express newspaper. "It is basically a trap, which many visiting teams fall for. The centre of the pitch will be watered, but the amount will be gradually brought down.

"Some of us use garden showers just to ensure the pitch gets only the right amount of water and closer to the game, the grass will be culled. The top layer will expand when it absorbs water and it will get loose."

The curator went on to detail how a pitch could be prepared to produce puffs of dust early, giving the impression it will be a raging turner when the opposite is true. The home side, he believes, gain a great advantage from this knowledge.

Pitch dark arts nothing new for curators in India

"There are instances where some of us leave just a puff of dust on the pitch, which will come off every now and then, but that is only on the top layer," the curator explained. "Once that bottom layer holds firm, there will be nothing on it. These are subtle things only our batsmen will understand and get used to."

Tailoring pitches to nullify opposition bowlers is nothing new in India. Veteran Chennai groundsman K Parthasarathy admitted he played a role in ensuring Shane Warne would not be as effective as usual in the opening Test of the 1998 series.

Seen here in 2001, the late Shane Warne is frustrated by the record partnership between VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid in Calcutta.
The late, great Aussie leg-spinner Shane Warne was frequently left frustrated during Test matches in India. Pic: Getty (Shaun Botterill via Getty Images)

The world's best leg spinner finished with 1-122 in the second innings as Sachin Tendulkar smashed an unbeaten 155 to steer his side to a 179-run win. India went on to win the series 2-1.

“I kept the square patches outside the leg stump, on either side of the wicket, really hard," Parthasarathy later explained. "It was difficult to get turn from that part as there would be no rough there. After that game, Warne came to me and asked why he wasn’t getting the turn and others were.

"I told him it was because of his dodgy shoulder, that was to be operated on later in the series."

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