Cricket fans and commentators have bemoaned the state of the pitch for the fourth Test between Australia and India, with the series finale seemingly headed for a dour draw. The pitches for the first three matches of the series produced plenty of spin and uneven bounce from ball one, resulting in three Tests that failed to stretch past the third day.
The pitch for the third Test in Indore was rated 'poor' by the ICC, but many would rather those sorts of pitches to the one produced in Ahmedabad for the fourth Test. Curators have gone the complete opposite way in Ahmedabad and produced a batter's paradise, with very little help on offer for the spin or seam bowlers.
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After Australia batted first and made 480, India went even bigger and amassed 571 when their first innings finally finished late on day four. Virat Kohli broke through for his first Test century since November 2019, making a masterful 186 to register his best-ever score against Australia.
Shubman Gill had earlier made 128, while Usman Khawaja (180) and Cameron Green (114) also notched up centuries in Australia's first innings. However cricket fans and commentators were left questioning why curators deviated so noticeably from the first three pitches of the series, which produced much more entertaining spectacles - albeit ones that all ended on day three.
Australia will resume their second innings at 0-3 on the final day on Monday, still 88 runs in arrears of India's first-innings total. It means there is very little chance of any other result than a dull draw.
Speaking in commentary for Fox Sports, Aussie great Mark Waugh said: "The last three Tests were two-day pitches, but this is a 22-day pitch. It's not good enough, [India] knew they only needed a draw to win the series, and India are batting like they want a draw, very disappointing we won't get a result here."
With India up 2-1 in the series, many suggested curators produced a flat pitch because the home side only needs a draw to win the series, which would also boost their chances of making the World Test Championship final if Sri Lanka can't sweep New Zealand 2-0. “15 wickets have fallen over four days, we’ve gone the other extreme,” commentator Harsha Bhogle said at one stage on Sunday.
Dinesh Karthik replied: “We need to talk about these numbers - 91 wickets over seven days and 15 wickets over four days." Former India coach Ravi Shastri shot back: "So what do you want, this kind of a pitch or the other pitches? You don’t want to finish in three days yes, totally agree, but that could also be because of incompetent batting. I hope all those whingers about Indian pitches are happy now."
Cricket world left unimpressed by 'pathetic' scenes
Former Test wicket-keeper Brad Haddin pointed out that India might be hoping they've completely demoralised Australia by batting so long. Haddin suggested India prolonged their innings and kept the tourists in the field so that “when Australia go into bat, they have nothing to play for." He added: "It’s dangerous to bat when there’s nothing to play for.”
Speaking after play on Sunday, India all-rounder Axar Patel said "anything can happen" when asked if his team believed they could secure an unlikely victory. "If we get two or three wickets early tomorrow, they might play defensive under pressure," Patel said. "The pitch is not like it was in first three matches so we just can go and run over them."
Making matters worse for Australia is the fact Usman Khawaja is no certainty to be able to bat on day five. The Aussie opener left the field with the doctor on Sunday and didn't open the batting in Australia's second innings, with Matthew Kuhnemann facing the new ball instead.
An Australian team spokesperson said Khawaja's injury was "lower leg soreness, nothing conclusive". Cricket fans have been left fuming over the 'pathetic' state of the pitch in Ahmedabad, taking to social media to express their anger.
🇦🇺 underdone coming on this tour
We played appallingly for an hour in the second test
🇮🇳 probably deserve to lead / win the series
But what a joke the pitches have been
3 dustbowls - 1 ridiculous
Now a road that yields 14 wickets in 10 sessions
Do something toothless @ICC
— The Spence (@adambspencer) March 12, 2023
Between Indore and Ahmedabad, I'd take the Indore pitch anyday. #INDvAUS
— Nikhil Naz (@NikhilNaz) March 12, 2023
We're moving in to 2017-18 MCG Test sort of areas with this pitch now #INDvAUS
— Oliver Caffrey (@ollycaffrey) March 12, 2023
Lots of talk about the pitches this series but the fact that the BCCI made one so bad that even Kohli can score a hundred on it….. there needs to be an investigation
— Ian Higgins (@1an_Higgins) March 12, 2023
This is an aesthetic, not moral, judgment: the Indore pitch created a Test match more interesting to watch than the Ahmedabad pitch.
I’d rather watch 31 wickets fall in 6.5 sessions of Test cricket - than watch 14 fall in ten.
Both extremes, but 5 wickets/session better than 1.
— Michael Appleton (@michelappleton) March 12, 2023
What a shit way to end a great series. Admittedly every wicket prepared by the Indian curators’ been a disgrace but at least the first 3 got results. The @BCCI blatant attempts to manipulate results are a stain on the game that dont go unnoticed just unpunished. Pathetic #INDvAUS
— Max Allen (@BigMal84) March 12, 2023
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