Sport

Australia v India: Manuka Oval pitch provides hope for team batting first defending a total

Manuka Oval curator Brad Van Dam has dismissed a suggestion from Australian great Dean Jones to introduce a drop-in pitch at the ground to increase Canberra's chances of hosting Test matches.

Another big score of more than 300 is expected to be the benchmark required for victory when Australia aims to go 4-0 up in the series against India on Wednesday.

The Manuka Oval pitch gets its final touches before Wednesday's one day international match by curator Brad Van Dam.
The Manuka Oval pitch gets its final touches before Wednesday's one day international match by curator Brad Van Dam. Photo: Karleen Minney

High scoring games have been the norm in the five previous international games held at the ground since its redevelopment in 2012.

But in complete contrast to this series with Australia launching successful run chases in Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne, every team batting first in Canberra has prevailed.

While the Manuka Oval pitch is ideal for the shorter format, Jones believed the ground's reputation of being a graveyard for bowlers isn't conducive to Canberra's bid to get on the Test rotation.

Van Dam isn't convinced that a drop-in pitch is the answer.

Advertisement

"I doubt it because I can't see what the reason for that comment was," Van Dam said.

"On my side, being the technical side, I can't see what reason a drop-in pitch brings to a Test match.

"That's a comment I can't really explain."

Van Dam cites the recent Futures League match at the ground last week, where Western Australia took 20 wickets in a day and a half against the ACT Comets, as proof that bowlers can triumph.

In any case, batsmen have licked their lips in anticipation when they walk out on to the Manuka Oval in coloured clothing.

Australia has won its two previous games batting first in Canberra - scoring 329 on both occasions, against the West Indies (290) in February, 2013 and South Africa (256) on November, 2014.

It was the same result in the three World Cup games in Canberra last year, with Bangladesh (267), the West Indies (2-372) and South Africa (4-411) all successfully defending a sizeable target.

The match is on track to be the first One-Day International to be a sell-out this summer in front of a capacity crowd of around 11,000.

ACT Government senior executive of venues Jeff House said increasing the capacity of Manuka Oval would depend on what content would be guaranteed at the ground.

"It certainly has been proven we could do with some extra seating, but we have to look at the future with what games we're going to continue to have here," House said.

"If we're certain we're going to have these fixtures on an on-going basis, then we will have to look at it.

"The government is very conscious we've had a series of capacity crowds and across the budget cycle we'll look at how we can have more seating here."

The ACT Government last year signed an agreement with Cricket Australia to host a One-Day International or a Twenty20 International in Canberra every year until 2019.

The GWS Giants are also locked in to playing three AFL premiership games at the ground until 2021 as part of a 10-year deal.

SET THE PACE

The five previous international games at Manuka Oval since the ground's redevelopment in 2012:

Feb 6, 2013: Australia 7-329 bt West Indies 290

Nov 19, 2014: Australia 5-329 bt South Africa 256

Feb 18, 2015: Bangladesh 267 bt Afghanistan 162

Feb 24, 2015: West Indies 2-372 bt Zimbabwe 289

Mar 3, 2015: South Africa 4-411 bt Ireland 210