Rajkot:The pitch prepared for India's first of seven ODIs against England, to be held at the Madhavrao Scindia Stadium here on November 14, is expected to assist seam bowlers initially, according to the cricket board's West Zone curator-in-charge, Dhiraj Parsana.
"The pitch will assist pace bowlers for the first one to one-and-a-half hours as we have left some grass on it and there would be some sweating under the covers before the 9 am start.
"We have tried to see that there's good carry for the bowlers throughout. If I was India captain I would field first on winning the toss as the team has the bowlers to exploit the conditions in the first hour or so," the former Test left-arm bowler said on Wednesday.
"It would be good for the strokemakers too as more shots can be played on the back foot rather than when they are forced to play on the front foot on wickets that afford only knee-high bounce," he added.
If Parsana, who has overseen the wicket preparation by ground curator Rasik Makwana, is proved right then India look certain to rue the absence of young pacer Ishant Sharma, who was ruled out of the match to give him time to recover from his ankle sprain.
The lanky bowler is here with the team and also took part in the optional net session, skipped by captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, speedster Zaheer Khan and off spinner Harbhajan Singh, who reached from Nagpur after defeating Australia in the Test series.
Sharma, man of the series in the recently concluded Tests, moved gingerly on the field and just helped in catching practice to the others.
A team source indicated that even if Sharma had not been nursing an ankle sprain he would not have taken part in the first match since he had bowled a lot of overs in the fourth and final Test against Australia which India won by 172 runs. "He had bowled a lot of overs at Nagpur and would not have played in this match," the source said.
In his absence it would be left to Zaheer, Munaf Patel - who had to cool off his heels during the Test series against Australia - and Rudra Pratap Singh to exploit whatever help the pitch provides against England who too have a formidable pace attack consisting of Steve Harmison, Andrew Flintoff, Stuart Broad and James Anderson.
Meanwhile, Saurashtra Cricket Association secretary Niranjan Shah said response from the crowd is "not as good as before," but hoped things would improve in the run-up to the eleventh match to be held here.
India have played in nine of them and lost five, including the last tie in early 2007, before the World Cup, when they lost to Sri Lanka by five runs.
They have beaten the Emerald Islanders on two other occasions (1994 and 2005) while notching victories over Zimbabwe and the West Indies in 2000 and 2002.
The four losses before the one against Lanka last year came against Australia (1986), the first ODI here, West Indies (1988), South Africa (1996) and New Zealand (1999).
The only match not involving India, the MRF World Series for the Nehru Cup contested between the West Indies and Sri Lanka in 1989, had gone in the latters favour.