With India taking a 1-0 lead in the five-match series against England, all eyes are on the pitch at Mohali ahead of the third Test, which starts on Saturday. Traditionally, the surface is known to assist the seamers but it looks as though this pitch might be similar to the one South Africa received last year when they were beaten inside three days.
While the pitch at Rajkot offered little to no assistance to the bowlers, the one at Vizag was a much more even contest with bat dominating early in the game and the spinners coming into their own after day three. So it was interesting to note that the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) curator Daljit Singh spoke about how the surface is unlikely to provide great assistance to the fast bowlers.
"This is a 23-year-old pitch so you can't expect it to behave the same way as it did 15-20 years ago. The bounce and carry that was there in the beginning will definitely not be there. Its top surface has undergone considerable changes in all these years although you can't call it major changes," Daljit told mid-day.
The pitch at Mohali has always been one that has suited the seamers, especially in the first couple of days and the numbers certainly seem to bear that out. The two best bowling figures in a Test match at the stadium have both come from fast bowlers, which took place in the same match.
In the first Test between India and New Zealand in 1999, Dion Nash blew away India for just 83 and his figures of 6/27 remain the best at the stadium to this day, while Javagal Srinath’s figures of 6/45 are the second-best. While the two best Test figures at the stadium belong to seamers, the next five are all spinners with Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, both featuring courtesy of their five-wicket haul against South Africa last year, in which India’s spinners took 19 of the 20 Protea wickets to fall.
Daljit also admitted that “no instructions of any kind” have been given to him from anyone but was non-committal when speaking about whether spin will come into play from the opening day of the Test match.
“There is still a lot of time before the first ball is bowled in the third Test so I can't comment now. All I can say is that we are making a sporting track with something for everybody— batsmen, fast bowlers and spinners," the curator added.
Nasser Hussain, who is currently in Mohali, commentating for the ongoing series between India and England, also tweeted an image of the pitch.
Pitch drier for this test than it normally is up here.. especially at the ends . Looks ok though .. crucial toss !! pic.twitter.com/BR27IgISTP— Nasser Hussain (@nassercricket) November 24, 2016
Former England captain Michael Vaughan, who is commentating on the match for BBC Test Match Special, also spoke about the dryness of the wicket, which is in stark contrast to what he thought was the nature of the surface in Mohali.
“This pitch looks very, very dry,” Vaughan said. “Usually in Mohali, you get a little bit of pace, little bit of carry through to the keeper but this has got none of that. It’s quite crusty, usually you get a shine to the surface. It is going to rag and the toss will be very, very important.“
And as it was in the second Test at Vizag, the toss is going to be crucial, as is evident from the statements of two former England captains and one has to wait a little longer to get a clear understanding of what the pitch for the third Test might do.