What’s the story?
As India’s long home season draws to a conclusion, the focus on the nature of the pitches has never been higher. The curators were lauded in the early part of the season when they produced neutral wickets favoring both teams but after the debacle in Pune, where the pitch was rated ‘poor’, there has been a much closer eye kept on the playing surface.
Two days prior to the start of the third Test in Ranchi on the 16th, the picture of a brown, dry, grassless wicket has caught the eye of the public.
The second Test in Bangalore saw the tension between the two teams soar through the roof as India clinched a tight contest to level the series at one game apiece. Ahead of the Test in Ranchi, allegations have been made that India and Virat Kohli have doctored the pitch to suit their bowlers more.
On the surface of it, the Ranchi pitch does not present the look of a very sporting wicket. Of course, there are two days to go for the game, and the final outcome could be very different, but if it were to remain the same, it would heavily favour spin.
Depleted by an injury to star seamer Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, who relies on pace to get his wickets has been entrusted to do the damage for the Aussies. His effectiveness could be reduced on a pitch that doesn’t suit fast bowler. Further, Nathan Lyon, who relies on spin and bounce will also not extract much purchase from the pitch.
On the flipside, the same could be said for India’s Ravichandran Ashwin. The two bowlers who will be looking at this surface with most satisfaction will be Ravindra Jadeja and Steve O’Keefe.
Reactions have poured in on social media with the pitch taking center stage ahead of the game –
The allegations of India having doctored the pitch appear to be completely baseless and Kohli will be confident his side will be able to get the job done without an unfair advantage. If there is anything that we have learned from the first two Tests, it is that both teams have their weaknesses against spin, and it just depends on who exploits the surface better on the day.
Even if work is done on the pitch to make it more neutral in the next two days, it is extremely unlikely that the Test in Ranchi will go the distance.