AHMEDABAD: For a better part of the day, the playing surface for the fourth Test between India and Australia at the Narendra Modi Stadium was kept under wraps, seemingly to protect it from the unforgiving sun. It was only late in the afternoon when things had cooled down a bit that the ground staff lifted the tarpaulin covers to give everyone a glimpse of the pitch.
The mower was out and so was the scrubbing brush to polish off the grass near the good length spot. The wicket, as has been the norm in this series, has been well rolled in the middle with a tinge of green.
With another day remaining for the Test to begin and India’s place in the World Test Championship Final still at stake, it remains to be seen how the pitch shapes up.
But there was no doubting Rahul Dravid’s stance on the raging debate about the quality of the pitches on offer for this series. The India coach brought out his barn-door like bat to defend the ploy of dishing out rank turners for the iconic series.
“It (pitch) looks okay to me,” said Dravid before reeling off, “Whatever the pitch is, it doesn’t matter. There is lot of talk about the pitch all the time.
“It is the same for both the teams. It’s more challenging for the bowler at times, it’s more challenging for the batsmen at times. Wickets are like that, whatever it is, we have to learn to play on them.”
The last Test in Indore, just like the first two Tests at Nagpur and Delhi, had finished inside three days. The third Test had drawn the wrath of match referee Chris Broad who had rated the pitch ‘poor’ and given it three demerit points.
Dravid was asked if he agreed with the match referee’s views.
“I won’t look too much into it. The match referee is entitled to make his opinion. It doesn’t matter if I agree with his reading. It doesn’t really matter. What I will say is that sometimes, with WTC points at stake, you are looking at playing on wickets that get results. It can happen sometimes, not only in India, but even across the world. At times it is difficult to get that balance perfectly right for everyone,” Dravid said.
Dravid’s grouse stems from the fact that India have been on the receiving end while touring abroad.
“We have played on some challenging series overseas as well whenever we go. We played on some wickets in South Africa recently where the spinner was taken out of the game. Everyone’s trying to produce wickets where you eventually want results in these games and that’s natural. So, you will be looking to produce pitches where the ball will hold sway over the bat. It’s part of the game.”
For the record, India’s prime spinner R Ashwin had managed to pick just six wickets on the tour of South Africa last year and those wickets had come at 60 apiece. The hosts had won the series 2-1.
Like his assistant Vikram Rathore said the other day in Indore, Dravid too maintained that wickets are heavily in favour of the spinners because of the WTC.
“It (WTC) could be one of the reasons. Yes, because there is too much premium on results. You draw a game like in Kanpur against New Zealand. We took nine wickets in the second innings and you draw the game and it sets you back in a home game.
“There is tough competition all round, every team is getting a result at home. There is a premium on result whether you play at home or away. In this competition, you get four points for a draw and 12 points for a win, so there is a premium on that.”
New Zealand had salvaged a draw in the fading light of Kanpur in 2021 after tailenders Rachin Ravindra and Ajaz Patel batted out almost 10 overs on Day Five.