Now, India desperately need to win the second Test starting on Saturday to stay even before the pink-ball Test in Ahmedabad. And for that, one of the four adjacent pitches, which will be used, has to play its part, more so after England dominated India in all three departments over the last five days.
Those who have seen the pitches feel that those are unlikely to be drastically different from the one that was used.
“What Virat must have meant was that the pitch lacked carry. It had turn and bounce — he himself got out in the first innings to one that did both — but the ball was stopping on the batsmen from Day 3, which didn’t help Indian batsmen at all,” a source in the know told TOI.
The slowness, too, may have gone against Indian spinners because England batsmen were able to play them in the first innings off the track even if they were beaten in flight.
For the pitch to have turn, bounce and carry for spinners, it is important to leave a little bit of grass so that the wicket stays firm.
There is, of course, the threat of James Anderson and Jofra Archer in the first session on Day 1, but the Indian team — if they bat first — should be up for it to reap the rewards for the rest of the Test.
The other option is to shave off all the grass, let the 22 yards bake in the heat for the next three days and prepare an absolute turner from Day 1. But the fact that ICC is watching and the venue itself could be in trouble for preparing a bad pitch will surely leave the curators in a Catch-22 situation.
Whatever be the situation, there will be quite a bit of turn and it’s unlikely that India will shift from their three-spinner theory.
Kohli was quite clear that he was unhappy with Shahbaz Nadeem and Washington Sundar, and the former is likely to make way for Axar Patel, who is recuperating from knee pain. Axar has been batting and bowling in the nets and it is believed that he will be ready to lead the spin attack with Ashwin.
The Chennai man hasn’t been in any discomfort following the knocks he suffered on his right hand while batting on Tuesday.
The interesting part will be whether Sundar is ignored despite his superb show with the bat in the first innings.
“His primary job is to bowl off-spin where he was a bit of a letdown. If Axar comes in, he can bat at No. 7 and the management may look to try a wrist-spinner,” the source added.
In that case, it can become a toss-up between leggie Rahul Chahar and chinaman Kuldeep Yadav, whoever shows better promise in the nets.
“While Kuldeep will bring the ball in to the right-hander, Chahar will take it away. It will be entirely Virat’s call who he thinks is the right fit,” the source added