What’s the story?
The Maharashtra Cricket Association, reeling under flak from all sides regarding the nature of the pitch for the opening Test between India and Australia, got another major blow with the International Cricket Council rated the pitch as poor after a report was submitted by Chris Broad, the ICC match referee.
"The report has been forwarded to the Board of Control for Cricket in India, which now has 14 days to provide its response," said an ICC release.
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The announcement came from Broad, part of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC’s Match Referees, who was officiating in the Pune Test, at a time when the MCA is under the scanner because of the way the pitch behaved towards the latter part of the match.
The Indian team could manage just 105 and 107 runs in their two innings of the Test at Pune, the first ever Test at the venue.The Indian team’s 19-Test unbeaten run was abruptly ended with Australia winning the Test by a massive margin of 333-runs, one of their biggest wins India in all matches, and their first on Indian soil since 2004.
The heart of the matter
The response of the report will be investigated by ICC’s General Manager – Cricket, Geoff Allardice, and Ranjan Madugalle from the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Match Referees, and will be decided in accordance with Clause 4 of the process.
The referee submitted the report in accordance with Clause 3 of the ICC Pitch and Monitoring Process, submitting his report to the ICC over the nature of the surface.
The authorities have pointed out at interference from the pitch management regarding the preparation of the pitch, stating that they received instructions from the team management to keep the surface dry, completely changing the nature of the original pitch.
The action now moves to Bengaluru, for the second Test of the four-match series, scheduled to start from March 4, leaving the MCA with a lot to ponder, and the Indian Team another chance to recover from the ignominy of a 333-run defeat. The BCCI, who already has a lot on its plate, has been given an ultimatum of two weeks to respond to the report.
While batting, and not the pitch, was the main reason for India’s humiliating loss, the surface in itself was a poor endorsement for the longest format, as well as for MCA stadium, which was making its debut as a Test ground. The surface should ideally have had a little grass on it to assist the quicks, as well as some moisture so that the pitch sustained the game well into the final two days.