Pune pitch: Curator points finger at BCCI

India was outwitted and outplayed by Australia and, in particular, by a left-arm spinner, O’Keefe, playing his first Test in India. Almost all the Indian batsmen were clueless, barring Cheteshwar Pujara to an extent.

O’Keefe was virtually unplayable and he threw up figures of 6 for 35 and 6 for 35 as India fell like nine pins for scores of 105 and 107.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

Soon after India was thrashed by a whopping 333 runs in the first Test here on Saturday, the long-time curator of the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Pandurang Salgaonkar was on his way to look at the centre pitch on which Australia’s left-arm spinner Stephen O’Keefe bamboozled the Indian batsmen and captured a dozen wickets for 70 runs (six in each innings).

Two days before the Test he had boasted that “the Test will last five days” and that the “ball would fly” and when asked what happened, Salgaonkar quipped: “Ask Daljit (Singh)”.

The former Maharashtra fast bowler Salgaonkar, unlucky not to have played for India, appeared extremely disappointed while responding to a question. What he meant was that the pitch prepared by him to last five days was “tinkered with” by the BCCI’s ground and pitch committee representatives to suit the Indian spinners.

India was outwitted and outplayed by Australia and in particular by a left arm spinner, O’Keefe, playing his first Test in India. Almost all the Indian batsmen were clueless, barring Cheteshwar Pujara to an extent.

Salgaonkar, who has shed 50 kgs in the last two years following a bariatric surgery, doesn’t want to be blamed for the fiasco here. It’s generally understood that communication from the team management to the ground-in-charge at venues goes through an official of the BCCI and this time around too it could not have been different.

Five years ago, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was categorical about the need to prepare “designer pitches” for the Indian spinners against Alastair Cook’s England team; India lost the series 1-2.

Two years ago, curators went out of the way to prepare rank turners against South Africa. India won that series 3-0. The Jamtha pitch in Nagpur came under flak and the ICC termed it as “poor” following a report by the series match referee Jeff Crowe.

It would be interesting to see what the match referee for this Test, England’s Chris Broad, would have to say. Australia’s captain Steve Smith had said before the match that the “pitch was incredibly dry.”

In last week’s warm up match between India ‘A’ and Australia, the curator of the Brabourne Stadium pitch, Prakash Adhav, prepared a good three-day pitch on which plenty of runs were scored. O’Keefe’s figures read three for 101 in 24 overs and Nathan Lyon's was four for 162 in 28.5 overs.

Here, O’Keefe was virtually unplayable and he threw up figures of 6 for 35 and 6 for 35 as India fell like nine pins for scores of 105 and 107.

Lyon took one for 21 and four for 53. They could not have asked for anything more. They have sent a clear message that they cannot be trifled with.