Playing at home, the hosts are always expected to produce pitches that suit their conditions. As such it would be least surprising if India produce batting beauties for the one-dayers against Sri Lanka, where their batsmen who love batting on lifeless pitches can thrive against the hapless bowlers. However, considering the fact that India would next be heading to Australia for a gruelling tour, which will be followed by the World Cup, it would be great if the Indians take a bold decision of producing pacy and bouncy pitches. It might not result in pretty cricket, and India's performance in the series might also suffer, but they would do well to see the bigger picture.
Under normal circumstances, no one would have complained if India came up with batting beauties. However, the current situation is not a usual one. Although India-Sri Lanka contest have become mundane, this actually is a preparation for the Australia tour and thus, in a way the World Cup as well. In no way will the conditions Down Under be similar to those back home. Thus, the only way India can somewhat ready themselves for the Aussie challenge is if they manage to come up with surfaces that have a decent resemblance to the one they will find when they head to Australia.
Practically, it won't be possible for the Indian curators to replicate the kind of surfaces the team will encounter in Australia. After all, all countries have their distinct soil and identity, and thus behave differently. However, that doesn't mean that India cannot produce hard surfaces. Remember the Nagpur pitch for the 2004 Test against Australia on which India miserably struggled. The surfaces can be modified so as to change its behaviour, even if moderately. Leaving back grass on the pitch is definitely one option. Further, the Indians can even think of a drop-in pitch, if needed importing soil from Australia. It may sound far-fetched, but wouldn't do India much harm.
Having quick surfaces while playing at home might not actually be that big a risk, when one considers that the opposition is Sri Lanka. Like the Indians, Sri Lanka also do not like fast, bouncy surfaces, as a result of which the battle would actually be fought on an even keel. Even if they struggle and go down to their Asian counterparts at least it would be an eye-opener for them as they head to Australia. On the contrary, if they do well on such challenging surfaces, it would give them better confidence as they head to Australia.
Considering that this will be the last series for India before they head to Australia, winning matches on lifeless pitches would serve them no purpose. Under such circumstances, it would only give them false hopes of performing well when they go to Australia. India have been in such conditions numerous times, wherein they struggled away from home after winning easily in familiar conditions. Yet, they don't seem to have learnt their lessons. What India needs is a refreshing, challenging attitude towards tough away tours. If they continue with their traditional mindset, expect another catastrophe Down Under.
--By A Cricket Analyst