Even Indians are questioning if curators have gone too far in producing spin-friendly pitches against Australia in the Border-Gavaskar series.
- On day one of the third Test in Indore, 14 wickets fell — 13 of them to spinners
- And, of the past 10 Tests in India leading up to this one, six have finished within three days
- Former India Test player Aakash Chopra says the overly spin-friendly pitches are “a disservice to the game of cricket”
On day one of the third Test in Delhi, 14 wickets tumbled, with all but one of them, a run-out, falling to spin.
The visitors came out on top after a chaotic opening day, going to stumps at 4-156, a lead of 47.
After captain Rohit Sharma won the toss and decided to bat, India were rolled for 109 on a minefield, where the ball spun sharp and kept low.
Nathan Lyon ripped a fierce, low-bouncing off-break into the stumps of India veteran Cheteshwar Pujara, to set in motion an extraordinary collapse.
India batting coach Vikram Rathour was pressed hard by local media about the state of the Indore pitch.
“First day of a Test match, the pitch did a lot more than we expected,” Rathour said.
“But, to be fair on the curators also, I think they hardly [had] time to prepare this wicket.
“It was pretty late that it was decided that the game was shifted from Dharamshala to this venue, so I don’t think they [had] enough time to really prepare the wicket.
“As a team, we want to play on turning tracks. This is what our strength is as a team.
“So, it is challenging. You need to bat really well to score runs.”
Of the past 10 Tests in India leading up to this one, six have ended within three days, all in victory for the home side, including the first two games of the current series against Australia.
While India’s dominance at home is something the proud cricketing nation enjoys, the standard of pitches and the short matches are a problem administrators need to tackle, according to former India Test player Aakash Chopra.
“There is an inherent problem with a surface that is a rank turner from day one,” he told ESPN Cricinfo.
While critics can also point to the two-day Test between Australia and South Africa at the Gabba, or some rapid games in seaming conditions in England, Chopra said there was “a marked difference” between those sort of greentops and a dustbowl like the Holkar Stadium deck.
“When you see a greentop, which has a lot of moisture in it, eventually it actually becomes a decent surface to bat on and maybe, at some stage, the spinners also come into the picture,” Chopra said.
“But, when you start a game where the puff of dust [on the pitch] is there from ball one … it just keeps deteriorating.
“There is no way that [Indore] pitch is going to get better as the match progresses.
“Nobody should be asking for a surface which is so conducive to spin from bowl one, because then you’re doing a disservice to the game of cricket.”
Former Australia opener Matthew Hayden said the pitch should not have favoured spin as much as it did.
“It shouldn’t be a spin bowler’s paradise necessarily. It shouldn’t be keeping low and turning a mile on day one,” Hayden said on commentary.
“You’re allowed to have a four- or five-day Test match, otherwise just call it as it is. We’ll just play three-dayers.”