Ahmedabad pitch for pink ball test Match
In the aftermath of the end of the pink ball Test, the shortest since 1935, there have been lots of discussions on the viability of such a bowling-dominated pitch in the media and amongst experts. Many have branded this as a poor pitch for test cricket and there are several others that blamed the batting technique against spin for such a rapid end to the game which was also a fair argument.
Test cricket pitches are needed to be sporting and result-oriented so that there is a close contest between bat and ball. In white-ball cricket, pitches these days are far too inclined towards batting resulting in astronomical scores in many games.
However in test cricket pitches should be having some spice for bowlers to make the longest format exciting, watchable, and result-oriented. It has been seen in the past that bowling dominated games tended to be more exciting and watchable rather than 6 hitting games on flat pitches against ordinary bowling that we see so much these days in limited-overs variety.
Having said that one must ensure in not overdoing things and prepare pitches that give batting no chance as we have seen at Ahmedabad.
The pitch for 3rd test was spinning and dust coming out from 1st session itself. It became more obvious that this pitch was underprepared on the 2nd day when India slumped from overnight 99/3 to be dramatically all out for 145, thus losing 7/46 on the 2nd morning !! And who was the bowler that created this carnage? Joe Root.
The England captain is a decent off-spinner but a par timer and for him to look unplayable on day two 1st session was a clear indication of how underprepared the pitch was. 21 off the 30 dismissals happened to straight balls which indicated that batters were so uncertain that which way the ball will spin and they were flummoxed.
Yes, it was true that both teams batted poorly at Ahmedabad, and in this age of T20 dominance, & flat tracks, batsmen these days have forgotten the art of batting on spicy pitches whether on seaming or swing conditions or in spinning decks resulting in so many collapses in test cricket in the current era and shorter test matches.
We have witnessed worse pitches than this like at Pune in 2017 ( v Australia) or Mumbai 2012 ( v England).
Also since the test was played with the pink ball, the nature of the ball with more lacquer seemed to have made it hurry into the batsmen and so with the spinning nature of the pitch it became more unplayable.
However, that does not absolve this pitch from being substandard and tilted 90% towards bowling as we had cricket of just 140 overs. Also, we have seen from early day one itself that there were lots of loose soil underfoot on the bowling crease which made fast bowling uncomfortable and could have resulted in injury.
Loads of mud were removed in buckets as the match had to be halted while England fast bowlers were bowling. On the next day the match referee Javagal Srinath, a fast bowler himself in his playing days, was seen in the middle having a close look at the bowling crease.
This speaks poorly of the pitch conditions in a test match played in such a fantastically renovated stadium and resulting in the test ending in just five sessions which is a poor advertisement for the game.
Thus, admittedly though batters from both sides batted poorly and the pink ball made things tougher, that cannot take away the blame that the pitch in the 3rd test was hugely tilted towards one aspect of the game.
ICC rules do allow this kind of pitches to be branded poor. It remains to be seen how this pitch is perceived by ICC.
And it also remains to be seen how the pitch will be for the 4th test. Will the curators risk another spin-oriented deck of this nature in back-to-back games and invite the risk of suspension of this center by ICC?
We will soon know in one week’s time.
*** by amitava mukherjee