Mumbai, April 1: Former Indian batsman Sudhir Naik is the curator of the Wankhede Stadium where the World Cup final will be played on Saturday.
Says Naik, the Wankhede on Saturday might just see that hundredth hundred that the world is waiting for — provided Tendulkar survives the first half hour, reports The Indian Express.
“I don't know what reactions are coming from Sri Lanka but this pitch will certainly be a sporting one. I guarantee that if Sachin bats here for more than 30 minutes — even in the second innings — he will score a century,” said Naik.
Naik says the pitch will be a slow turner but he insists the pitch will be full of runs and the team batting first should have the advantage. "It will be an ideal one-day wicket," Naik, who toured England with the India team in 1974.
Naik feels a score of 270-280 would be very much on the cards in the day-nighter.
"The bounce will be even with a good carry. The pacers will get something out of the wicket in the initial overs," said the 66-year-old former opener who played three Tests, making his debut at Edgbaston, and two ODIs.
"But the team batting first will be at an advantage as the spinners will get assistance in the second session of the match. But the ball will not turn viciously, it will be a slow turner," said Naik.
"As it is very hot, the high moisture content may make things difficult for the batsmen in the second innings," said Naik, who captained Bombay Ranji Trophy team.Naik, an M.Sc in organic chemistry, said the authorities have already decided to use a chemical spray to reduce the impact of dew on the game.
Excessive dew late in the evening can swing the balance towards teams batting second in day-night matches.
The dew will freshen up the pitch and the bowlers will find it difficult to grip the ball that gets damp on a moist outfield.
The ICC had used the chemical spray to reduce the impact of dew at Brabourne Stadium here during the 2006 Champions Trophy match between Pakistan and New Zealand.
The chemical APSA-80, commonly used in agriculture, was also sprayed on the outfield at Mohali in the past.
Indian Express reports that on the eve of the quarter-final against Australia in Ahmedabad, skipper M S Dhoni sought out Sudhir Naik for a chat. It was casual conversation of the sort Naik has got accustomed to ever since the new Wankhede Stadium was declared ready for the World Cup.
Naik is the curator of the Wankhede Stadium, and Dhoni's interest indicated to him that the Indian skipper had at least one eye on the final, even though the team had a quarter-final and a semi-final to win first.
“He (Dhoni) told me that he'd seen the Wankhede matches and the pitch looked good. He asked me about the hard work that has gone into the ground and how the pitch was expected to behave. He asked if the pitch would retain its old character,” Naik said.
The Wankhede wicket has traditionally played true — predictable bounce, carry for pacers and bite for spinners. In the Group A league match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka on March 18, Kumar Sangakkara hit a century, Kiwi quick Tim Southee took 3 wickets and, later, as New Zealand chased, Muttiah Muralitharan got 4 for 25.
It's not just Dhoni who would like a heads-up on how the Wankhede pitch is likely to behave. Some two months ago, when the tournament was yet to begin and the Wankhede was still a work in progress, Naik got a call from a number he did not recognise. Sachin Tendulkar was on the line.
“He asked me, ‘Sir, will the pitch be the same or will it be different because of the renovation work? What about the outfield?',” Naik said.
“Despite the tremendous burden on his shoulders, Sachin was extremely concerned about the ongoing work at the stadium. This is his home ground, and he was very anxious to know if everything would be of a standard befitting the final of the World Cup.”