When Jayant Yadav gloved a sharp off-break from Nathan Lyon, India, the strong favourites succumbed to a massive 333-run loss at Pune. As Steve O’ Keefe and Steven Smith tormented India, the debate over the pitch which was brewing over the course of play had gathered enough steam. Fans were fuming and the Australians, who were quietly upset but happy that they won on such a track, gained complete satisfaction when the ICC rated the Pune as ‘poor.’
In the years since the ICC introduced its pitch and the outfield monitoring process in 2006, 12 international pitches have been rated poor or worse by match referees. And, only seven of those have been associated with an ICC full-member nation and ironically, four of those seven substandard belong to India. While the BCCI prepares its reply to the ICC, the action on-ground will now move to the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru.
While Australia may have humiliated India and sit 1- 0 up in the series, the ongoing debate is more about the Bengaluru pitch rather than India’s comeback. The doubts over the fact have been removed by the authorities, who have claimed the wicket is going to be a ‘sporting’ one.
The last memories of Bengaluru preparing for a Test was during the Freedom series in 2015 featuring South Africa. The Test was a special moment for the Proteas as well as the local crowd as AB De Villiers was zestfully waiting to play his 100th Test. Unfortunately, rain played party poopers and washed out the match after only two days of play. However, the loss of cricket prompted a large-scale renovation. The pitches on the square were untouched but the outfield itself was dug out to install a state-of-the-art drainage system.
The weather condition affected the pitch during that particular South Africa game. The track was said to have become soft but the bounce and carry were typical to the venue’s nature on the first two days. For now, the Chinnaswamy deck, under the supervision of the in-house curator K Sriram, continues to get water. He has indicated the strip will be watered till two days before the game to help it retain the moisture and offer assistance to the seamers. The ball will come on to the bat easily but the seamers can expect movement with the new ball.
As far as India is concerned, the toss will be crucial and if its favors the hosts, Kohli and co. must bat first. Firstly, it will provide them with a good opportunity to put runs on the board, given that they see off Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood with the new ball. Later, as the pitch turns darker, India would have a good chance of getting the spinners to gain an upper hand. All in all, the wicket is expected to play a perfect host to both teams and if they go on compete neck to neck with each other, the second Test will definitely be a five-day game.