Hyderabad: Local hero VVS Laxman's retirement just ahead of the Test series against New Zealand beginning here on Thursday has lessened the general interest level among common people.
The Rajiv Gandhi stadium at Uppal wore a desolate look with little interest seen among the locals as Team India practised in the morning followed by the visitors' session in the afternoon.
If the Hyderabad Cricket Association officials had earlier sounded unhappy for not being able to see Laxman one last time, the curator Y L Chandrashekhar too became emotional.
"We are all taken aback at his decision... He prepared so hard, slammed two centuries recently one being at the Gymkhana ground the wicket of which I had prepared... But we all are sad that he would not be playing here. He would have loved to play on this strip," Chandrashekhar told PTI.
Chandrashekhar, who had drawn flak for preparing a flat track during the drawn Test match against New Zealand in November 2010, expressed confidence that the track would yield a result this time around.
"We have prepared a track that would last five days. At the same time, there would be some help for the spinners from day two onwards..."
From the appearance of it, there seemed little grass on it, something that would motivate Mahendra Singh Dhoni's spin twins Pragyan Ojha and Ravichandran Ashwin.
"After the Test (against New Zealand) last time, we relaid it and changed the red soil. Now, it's a mixture of black and red soil, something that would aid bounce as well as help the spinners. We are hoping to see a result this time," he added.
He also pointed out that India had won their last match here, in an ODI against England in November 2011.
Meanwhile Team India practised in front of an empty stadium on Tuesday, even as the gates were opened for selective people.
At the practice, Sachin Tendulkar, who remained the only senior batsmen after Rahul Dravid and Laxman retired, was seen giving tips to the youngsters. The senior most player also batted at the nets for sometime but went inside after his helmet which was lying on the ground was broken after being hit by a stray ball.
A fit-again pacer Ishant Sharma, who would comeback after an ankle surgery, was seen troubling the batters with his bouncers.
In a rare sight, Virender Sehwag was seen bowling medium pacers while skipper Dhoni was following each ball from behind the batsman.
The skipper was the last to bat in the order as he dispatched the ball out of the park with his trademark hits a few times.