“The pitch is a shocker. It is akin to a Chennai beach,” former England captain Michael Vaughan tweeted. While there is no doubt that the pitch has taken sharp turn right from the first session of the opening day, and bits of the top layer have come off consistently, India will argue that it is their superior skill-set in these conditions that has put them in pole position to level the series, just like how England are lauded when their bowlers take wickets and batsmen show better technique on a seaming pitch.
When India were shot out for 107 and 130 on an absolute green-top in the Lord’s Test against England in 2018, it was only the technique of the Indian batsmen that was called into question.
“As far as the pitch is concerned, not even one ball has hit the batsman’s helmet or taken off extraordinarily. It is just spinning normally. We are also playing on the same pitch and making runs. So, nobody should have reservations about the pitch. When we go outside India and get seaming tracks, we don’t say that the pitch has too much grass. People should change their mindsets rather than comment on the pitch,” left-arm spinner Axar Patel said on Monday.
India’s point was made on the third day, when the pitch should have only become more difficult for the batsmen.
Both Virat Kohli and R Ashwin, who scored his fifth Test century, showed that run-making is possible on this track. They were aided by the ball becoming older and had a few slices of fortune of course, which you need as a batsman on a surface like this. But it’s perhaps no more than the luck you need on a green seamer where the ball is hopping all over the place.
Equally, the gulf in the quality of the two spin bowling attacks has played a major role.
While the England spinners produced some unplayable balls, there were also rank bad deliveries from time to time that the Indian batsmen were able to capitalise on.
In comparison, R Ashwin and Axar have been relentless in their accuracy and not offered the frequency of full tosses and long-hops that Moeen Ali has been generous with. As England’s spin bowling coach Jeetan Patel said after the day’s play, it is a given that pitches will spin in the subcontinent and there is no point moaning about it.