India’s pitches in Nagpur and Delhi for the first two Tests of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against Australia have received an average rating from the International Cricket Council (ICC), reported Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday. The playing surfaces were a subject of huge discussion ahead of the blockbuster series. The pitch at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur has received an “average” rating from the governing body of the sport and its match referee, Zimbabwe’s Andy Pycroft.
The strip for the second Test at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi, where Australia fought hard for two days before bundling out for 113 runs in the third, was also an “average” rating by Pycroft. The surface was deemed to be fair if not perfect.
The preparation of the Nagpur pitch was of heavy interest to the Australian side. Star batters David Warner and Steve Smith were seen observing the surface closely and pressing against the pitch to check its hardness at various points before the match started. Images of “selective watering” also emerged online, which was done to ensure the areas outside off stump of left-handers were left dry for spinners.
Warner’s concerns about the surface were very evident the way he practised. He batted right-handed during the nets session and even considered doing so during the match.
Indian spinners were able to exploit the surface better, evident by the fact that both matches ended in three days with the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja dominating the Australian batters.
Jadeja and Axar Patel proved to be difficult to dismiss for Australians as spin veteran Nathan Lyon, Todd Murphy, Pat Cummins, Scott Boland failed to dismiss them for low scores.
Jadeja and Patel have scored 254 runs combined in the series, which is more than 242 runs made by seven left-handers playing in the Australian team – Usman Khawaja, Travis Head, Alex Carey, Warner, Matt Kuhnemann, Matt Renshaw and Murphy.
Australia’s high-performance chief, Ben Oliver defended his side’s truncated preparation for Indian pitches, but his predecessor Pat Howard pointed out that a prolonged period of preparations are needed. Back in 2017 during their last visit to India, Australia had taken a 1-0 lead, but lost the series by 2-1.
India will play the third Test in Indore from March 1 onwards, while the final Test will be held in Ahmedabad from March 9. The first ODI between Australia and India is in Mumbai on March 17, before the remaining two games in Vizag (March 19) and Chennai (March 22).
India’s Test squad for the third and fourth Test against Australia:Rohit Sharma (Captain), K L Rahul, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, KS Bharat (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Umesh Yadav and Jaydev Unadkat.
India’s ODI squad against Australia:Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, K L Rahul, Ishan Kishan (wk), Hardik Pandya (Vice-captain), Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, Umran Malik, Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel and Jaydev Unadkat.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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