Mumbai: Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni did not inspect the Wankhede Stadium pitch even for once prior to the World Cup final against Sri Lanka here, it was revealed on Monday.
Captains, players and team management usually inspect pitches a day or two before matches but Dhoni and his team-mates did not bother to do so before the World Cup summit showdown on Saturday, according to Wankhede Stadium curator Sudhir Naik.
"The only time Dhoni took a close look at the pitch was at the time of the toss," said Naik, the curator who had transformed the historic ground against all odds.
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"Not only Dhoni, no member of the Indian team ever bothered to look or inspect the pitch," said Naik, a former India opener.
"Indeed, I told my ground staff that such a show of self-belief is the mark of a winning team," he said.
In contrast to this, the Sri Lankans agonized a great deal about the quality of the pitch, inspecting it from all corners and then debating over it for a long time.
Naik said they even crossed his path in trying to "feel" the wicket and he had to guard it to make sure that there was no damage.
"I still can't believe that it all passed off so well. Believe me, it was touch and go," confessed Naik, who had to work really hard to prepare the pitch.
Naik was appointed curator of Wankhede Stadium early last year when the old structure had been pulled down and the new one was being built at a feverish pitch.
Tonnes of irons bars, fabrication, a cement plant and trucks of stones and bricks inside the stadium for the purpose of concrete construction had meant that the pitch, ground and outfield had taken a heavy beating.
"There were cranes everywhere. It was quite a labour to free the ground of rocks and pebbles. Any roller on top of it would have meant dents on the surface. It truly was race against time. I am happy it turned out well and in India's favour," he said with a sigh of relief.