What’s the story?
With India unexpectedly succumbing to an ignominious loss on a rank turner in the first Test against Australia in Pune, the focus has shifted on what type of pitch lays in wait at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.
R Sudhakar Rao, Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) Secretary, has shed light into their preparation and expectation of the all important 22 yards for the second Test. Insisting that the Indian team management has not given any instructions thus far, he bespoke of a batting-friendly surface intended to take the game to the final day.
“So far, we have not been told anything (about pitch preparation) but the Indian team is yet to arrive. Once they arrive, we have to see if they make any suggestions. Our intention is to prepare a sporting, Test match pitch. We want a five-day match. We definitely don’t want to see the match end in two and a half days. So we haven’t stopped watering it. We’ll water it until two or three days before the match. Then we will see what the pitch looks like two days out and take a call,” Sudhakar Rao said.
He elaborated, “On the first two days, the pitch should be good for batting and help medium-pacers. On days two and three, there should be slow turn. Then on the last two days, there should be more turn. I have told (KSCA curator) K Sriram to prepare that kind of wicket. We like to keep some moisture underneath.”
Upon losing the toss on a pitch which started turning from the opening session itself, India faltered badly to get bowled out for scores of 105 and 107. Australian spin duo of Steve O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon out bowled the fancied pairing of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. O’Keefe’s scarcely believable match figures of 12/70 paved the way for the visitors to cruise to a 333-run victory.
The heart of the matter
In the aftermath of the Pune Test, reports emerged of the BCCI management ordering the Maharastra Cricket Association (MCA) ground staff to remove even a blade of grass in a bid to roll out an extremely spin-friendly surface.
Pertinently, MCA Chief Curator Pandurang Salgaoncar had promised a pitch full of pace and bounce in the days leading up to the series opener. However, what transpired was quite the opposite with the ball spitting and turning square.
Even though they repeatedly beat the bat, the Indian spinners were not able to match their Australian counterparts who rode on their straighter deliveries to sink the hosts.
The second Test is scheduled to begin on Saturday. In order to regroup after the embarrassment in the opening match, the Indian team opted to go trekking at Tamhini Ghat in Maharashtra. They will hit the ground running and kick-start their preparation for the Bengaluru Test shortly.
Given a Test match is supposed to take place over five days, the curators definitely need to prepare a surface aimed at lasting for the most part of the duration. With batsmen allowed to make hay for the first few days and the seamers getting decent carry as well, the pitch starting to deteriorate on the penultimate day makes for a truly enthralling match.