The pitch on which India and South Africa start their ICC Champions Trophy campaign at the Swalec Stadium here will be a "no seam, no spin" wicket. Keith Exton, the chief groundsman of the Glamorgan County Club promises there will be no gremlins in the new pitch that has been prepared for the tournament opener.
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"It's a fresh wicket and it has taken about two weeks to get it ready for the first match of the tournament. The nature of the square here traditionally has been low and slow, but the pundits will be proved wrong this time," the 59-year-old said. (Also read: We have enough intelligence on Indian players, says AB de Villiers)
India scored over a 300 runs against Australia here in a warm-up match on Tuesday, but Exton feels "280 will be a par score" on this pitch. "It's going to be fair wicket where the bowlers and batsmen will have to contest each other very well," he added. (Dinesh Karthik is the 'special one', says MS Dhoni)
Both warm-up games in Cardiff have seen good batting conditions. With no rain predicted, Exton feels, the central pitch will hold its character throughout 100 overs and hence winning or losing the toss won't be a factor. (Watch: Sunil Gavaskar's prediction for Champions Trophy)
Exton feels the wicket in Birmingham where India chased over 300 runs to defeat Sri Lanka in a practice match "is a lot different to the one in Cardiff." "Edgbaston is an older wicket. It doesn't have the freshness and the pitch in Oval will be drier and harder," Exton said. (Dhoni says new rules will force teams to change approach)
Exton has been minding the Cardiff ground for the last three years. The square was dug up and new wickets were laid. "The idea was to prepare a fair wicket where the ball wont seam. Runs are important to keep the fans coming," he said.