Bangar plays down Gahunje track talk

While Australia captain had referred it to a “very dry wicket” on the eve of the game, Sanjay Bangar, India’s batting coach, preferred to dead-bat a query about the pitch.

Australia’s Matt Renshaw played a knock of 68 on a track that helped the spinners, in Pune on Thursday.   -  Picture: AFP

 

All through the long-drawn season, the Indian contingent—especially head coach Anil Kumble and captain Virat Kohli—has stressed on the team succeeding in varying conditions and sporting pitches. In the final stretch of the season, however, the Indian team management seems to have demanded a tailor-made pitch, which resulted in a strip contrary to the reputation of the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium at Gahunje.

Sportstar understands that feelers had been sent to the local curator Pandurang Salgaoncar about producing a turner. No wonder then that the BCCI’s chief curator Daljit Singh oversaw the preparation of the strip over the last two days despite BCCI’s west zone curator Dhiraj Parsana being stationed in Pune for a week.

Sanjay Bangar press conference

 

Interestingly, the look of the strip changed drastically in the 48 hours preceding the toss. While Australia captain had referred it to a “very dry wicket” on the eve of the game, Sanjay Bangar, India’s batting coach, preferred to dead-bat a query about the pitch.

“I think Pune wickets have been known for being very batsman-friendly. You see the number of first-class games played here, and the nature of the wicket remains the same over the length of the first-class matches that have been played here,” Bangar said after the opening day’s play.

“But this is first Test match being played on this ground and you will find out after the match because judging the nature of the pitch or passing comments can’t happen on day one, we have to wait for the Test match over the next four days how it pans out. But historically, the way the scoring patterns have been happening, I am pretty sure you would know how the Maharashtra pitches generally help batting.”

Ever since it hosted its maiden first-class game five years ago, the stadium has never seen a turner so far for a first-class cricket. In fact, all the result-oriented matches in the longer version here have been dominated by seam bowlers.

Matt Renshaw, the Australia opener who top-scored for his team, admitted it was a difficult pitch to negotiate for the batsmen. “I’ve never seen a pitch like that so I went with a pretty open mind and I tried to do just what I normally do in Australia which is bat as long as possible and weigh the bowlers down,” he said.

All praise for Umesh

Umesh Yadav is the fastest bowler in India’s squad at the moment. Still, the pacer wasn’t given the new ball, with Kohli opting to bowl with R. Ashwin’s off-spin. According to Bangar, it was a tactical move considering Yadav’s ability to make the old ball talk.

“Umesh has been to known to bowl well with the old ball. Even in the series against England you could see he got a lot of reverse swing,” Bangar said.

“We had held him back, expecting that the ball would reverse-swing pretty early in the innings. It was the precise plan to hold him back and two left-handers at the top of the order, so that was the plan to use Ashwin with Ishant (Sharma).”