Watching the test between Australia and India at Pune, the pitch was looking under prepared and was a square turner from day one. The competitive interest in test matches is already down and such designer pitches will only have an adverse impact on the game. Australia’s first innings was held together by Matt Renshaw, a left-hander having lovely technique to bat up in the order. The foolish captaincy of Virat Kohli ensured that Mitchel Starc hitting the leather out of the ground with the help of long handle. Mitchell Marsh’s crouching stance helped him to get a long reach and confused the bowlers. Steve O’Keefe bowled with a flat action and that helped him to get lion’s share of the wickets whereas both Jayant Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja looked ordinary. But for R. Ashwin the target would have crossed 500 as he got some early wickets to stem the rot after Australian team establishing a big 155 run lead.
We could not make proper use of DRS and paid heavy price as we did the same seven years ago in Sri Lanka and lost a series there when spinner Ajantha Mendis caused havoc. The great Indian batting line up that averages well at home were just bundled out for 105 and 107 and the chief destroyer was Steve O’Keefe who took 6 wickets in each innings to cause the doom. He did not look menacing but the Indians made him look unplayable. There was no excuse for the batting debacle. Our captain chased a ball from Pune to Pimpri, which was pitched on the seventh stump and the collapse was complete. In the second innings, he exposed his stumps open for O’Keefe to complete the onslaught.
We keep telling that the line belongs to the umpire by just covering up errors favouring Indian Team. Jayant Yadav stood on the crease as though the line belongs to him and not to the Aussies or the umpires. Again, Umesh Yadav crossed the boundary line after catching the ball near the fence, as though both the ball and the line belongs to him.
The fielding of the Indian team was pathetic at Pune. Australian captain Steve Smith was dropped three times that proved costly for us. The idea of preparing a pitch to suit the home team seems to have backfired in this test match. The fact is that the Australians are professionals and better players. They have come with a winning move backed by proper planning. Ours is too much of hype, hoopla and hysteria and nothing else. If a strong team tours India our batsmen have no answer to both spin and pace of opposition. There is no point in expecting better results.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)