Lifeless wicket. Poor turn-out. Dour play. An epic mismatch. The first Test of the season couldn't be more underwhelming.
THE FLAVOUR of the Australia summer is pace. A young tearaway in Pat Cummins has been discovered. And there’s no doubt Australia would play to their strengths when India come visiting later this year. The hard and quick wickets will suit their pace arsenal that has grown impressively in their years of transition.
Meanwhile, at the Kotla Stadium, India are playing West Indies on a surface as lifeless as Mars – the sort of wicket you’d never expect to play on in a Test in Australia. The quality of opposition also reflects on how poorly India tend to build towards fixtures that matter.
In their last 10 years of touring, the only major Test team West Indies have beaten is South Africa, once. Having played them plenty of times this year, India would be aware of the obvious weaknesses of West Indies. Hence this home series should have been the perfect occasion to test the batting bench strength.
Remember that bringing in the Ashwins and Yadavs was no longer optional. Their time had come, thanks to the fitness and form concerns with key bowlers like Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh. But given the quality of the opposition, the middle order triumvirate of Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman could have been given time off in order to test Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli.
At this point, it matters little whether Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman belt tonnes of runs out of this series, inflate their averages and pass milestones. In a little while, they may all be retired. So it does matter if young batsmen like Kohli and Rahane get the chance to make Test runs – because they’d be around for a while.
Coming back to the wicket, a delivery in the first over of the Test from Ishant Sharma went to the wicketkeeper on the second bounce, struggling to bounce even stump-high. It’s invariably the Kotla which manages to stick out like a sore thumb in matters of pitch preparation.
This dull surface is invariably expected to produce dull cricket, and so it is not surprising that the game is being played before near-empty stands despite Day 1 being Sunday, and Day 2 being a public holiday and India batting.
As the first Test of the season, this public response is about as cold as it gets. You can’t blame them. The England ODI series offered them the possibility of revenge. The upcoming Australia series offers them the possibility of a first-ever Test series win. But what does this West Indies series have to offer?
Question for readers: Are you following the West Indies Test series?