It’s not a sporting pitch

Jubilant Indian team which blanked Australia 4-0 in the Test series.-R.V. MOORTHY

The under-prepared pitch at the Ferozeshah Kotla was sadly a poor advertisement for Test cricket. By Vijay Lokapally.

The fourth Test between India and Australia was over in three days! Probably, this is the worst advertisement for the longer version of the game.

No doubt, most teams prefer conditions that suit them at home. Australia and South Africa love bouncy tracks. English players enjoy when the ball seams and swings around. West Indies once had fiery pitches that would test a visiting team’s valour.

India, traditionally, has prepared spinner-friendly pitches — slow with low bounce. Home advantage, as we are told, from the time the team boasted of four great spinners in its ranks.

But who will spare a thought for the paying public? “I don’t want to watch a Test on such a pitch if I am not playing… honestly,” confessed a former India cricketer. He was appalled at the Ferozeshah Kotla pitch.

This AustraliaN team was poorly equipped to handle spin. At Ferozeshah Kotla, the ball not only turned but skidded and reared awkwardly. The pitch was obviously under-prepared. The surface was dry and the cracks on the pitch made batting such a hazardous task. Ravindra Jadeja ended with flattering figures to emerge as a frontline spinner.

Cheteshwar Pujara and Peter Siddle are to be complimented for producing two quality knocks. On the third day, 328 runs were scored and 16 wickets were lost — an average of 20 runs per wicket. This piece of statistics may not fully reflect the poor condition of the pitch — there were many edges that flew off the bat and the discomfort caused to the wicketkeepers indicated the treacherous nature of the wicket.

The dismissal of Murali Vijay off a ball that climbed to his throat was such a contrast to the one that got Sachin Tendulkar, almost a grubber. Tendulkar fell to a similar delivery in the second innings as well.

Aswin... the spinner thoroughly enjoyed bowling in the home conditions.-S. SUBRAMANIUM

The ball did everything, and not always at the behest of the bowler’s skill. The mindset of the batsmen was defensive because of the unpredictable pitch.

India gained because it had better spinners. Australia looked up to Nathan Lyon but the off-spinner failed to deliver in the second innings. The pressure told on Lyon as he conceded easy boundaries and it became tough for Watson to set a field since Lyon erred on either side of the wicket.

India winning the home series 4-0 may have gladdened the hearts of the administrators but the discerning would not celebrate the triumphs in the same spirit. The pitches in Chennai and Hyderabad saw the spinners revel from the very first session of the match. The Mohali pitch did not have variable bounce though.

It will not be fair to just hold the curators responsible. After all, they were reportedly following the instructions of the Board and of course skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

THE SCORES

Fourth Test, Ferozeshah Kotla, March 22 to 24. Indian won by six wickets.

Australia — 1st innings: E. D. Cowan b Ashwin 38; D. Warner c Kohli b Sharma 0 P. Hughes b Sharma 45; S. Watson st. Dhoni b Jadeja 17; S. Smith c Rahane b Ashwin 46; M. Wade c Vijay b Ashwin 2; G. Maxwell c Sharma b Jadeja 10; M. Johnson b Ashwin 3; P. Siddle b Ashwin 51; J. Pattinson c Kohli b Ojha 30; N. Lyon (not out) 8; Extras: (b-5, lb-7) 12; Total: 262.

Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-71, 3-106, 4-115, 5-117, 6-129, 7-136, 8-189, 9-243.

India bowling: Bhuvneshwar Kumar 9-1-43-0; Ishant Sharma 14-3-35-2; Ashwin 34-18-57-5; Pragyan Ojha 26.1-6-75-1; Ravindra Jadeja 29-8-40-2.

India — 1st innings: M. Vijay c Wade b Siddle 57; C. Pujara b Lyon 52; V. Kohli lbw b Lyon 1; S. Tendulkar lbw b Lyon 32; A. Rahane c Smith b Lyon 7; M. S. Dhoni c Watson b Pattinson 24; R. Jadeja lbw b Maxwell 43; R. Ashwin lbw b Lyon 12; B. Kumar (not out) 14; Ishant Sharma b Lyon 0; P. Ojha lbw b Lyon 0; Extras: (b 12, lb 18) 30; Total: 272.

Fall of wickets: 1-108, 2-114, 3-148, 4-165, 5-180, 6-210, 7-254, 8-266, 9-272.

Australia bowling: Johnson 17-3-44-0; Pattinson 14-1-54-1; Peter Siddle 12-3-38-1; Nathan Lyon 23.2-4-94-7; Glenn Maxwell 4-0-12-1.

Australia — 2nd innings: D. Warner lbw b Jadeja 8; G. Maxwell b Jadeja 8; E. Cowan lbw b Jadeja 24; P. Hughes lbw b Ashwin 6; S. Watson b Ojha 5; S. Smith b Jadeja 18; M. Wade c Dhoni b Ojha 19; M. Johnson b Jadeja 0; P. Siddle st. Dhoni b Ashwin 50; J. Pattinson b Sharma 11; N. Lyon (not out) 5; Extras (b 8, lb 2) 10; Total 164.

Fall of wickets: 1-15, 2-20, 3-41, 4-51, 5-53, 6-94, 7-94, 8-122, 9-157.

India bowling: B. Kumar 2-0-9-0; Ashwin 15.3-2-55-2; Jadeja 16-2-58-5; Ojha 11-2-19-2; Ishant Sharma 2-0-13-1.

India — 2nd innings: M. Vijay b Maxwell 11; C. Pujara (not out) 82; V. Kohli lbw b Lyon 41; S. Tendulkar lbw b Lyon 1; A. Rahane c Lyon b Maxwell 1; M. S. Dhoni (not out) 12; Extras (b 9, lb 1) 10; Total: (for four wkts.) 158.

Fall of wickets: 1-19, 2-123, 3-127, 4-128.

Australia bowling: Lyon 15.2-0-71-2; Maxwell 11-0-54-2; Johnson 2-0-16-0; Pattinson 3-0-7-0.