India face pitch headache ahead of fourth Test against Aussies

Steve Smith and his team will once again be waiting to see the conditions.

Steve Smith speaks to the media and Rohit Sharma speaks at a press conference.
Australia will be waiting to see how the BCCI handle the pitch preparations ahead of the fourth Test with Indore coming under scrutiny. (Getty Images)

Australia will be waiting to see how the BCCI handle the pitch preparations ahead of the fourth Test with questions remaining after the debacle in Indore and Rohit Sharma's comments. The turning Indore pitch was granted a rating of 'poor' by the ICC following the completion of the match in less than three days.

All three Tests in the series thus far have failed to stretch beyond day three, with Indian groundskeepers coming under increased scrutiny. Nathan Lyon took 11 wickets, across two innings, at Indore and neither team posted a score of 200 or more.

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Australia's victory in Indore left the team trailing 2-1 in the series, but have a chance to level, which would be a historic achievement. And the history of the wicket at Narendra Modi Stadium, in Ahmedabad, will be sure to keep the Aussies guessing right up until the toss.

The last two international Tests played at the stadium, both against England, saw India's spinners take 35 of the 40 wickets. The first Test finished in under two days.

England were rolled for 112 and 81 and part-time spinner Joe Root claimed figures of 5-8. However, India could be concerned a similar wicket might play into the hands of Lyon, which was the pattern of play in Indore. Since 2013, 48 wickets have fallen to spin at the stadium, while 11 have come from quicks.

The last cricket match played at the largest cricket stadium in the world, in the Ranji Trophy match, saw a pitch that offered little to either spinners and quick bowlers. The Railways scored 508 in the first innings.

Ahead of the third Test, India captain Sharma confirmed reports they were considering asking curators to produce a green, grassy wicket for the fourth Test. Steve Smith wasn't concerned about the speculation at the time when the issue was raised to him. With the World Test Championship final set to be played at Lord's, the conditions will be vastly different to those we normally see in India.

However, India still need a victory to secure a spot in the Test Championship, while Australia has now guaranteed a spot in the final. Sharma hit back at criticism over the pitches in his third Test post-match press conference and said more needed to be made of the players' performances.

Nathan Lyon holds up the ball.
Nathan Lyon (pictured) holds up the ball after he took eight wickets in the second innings at Indore. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

“We focus too much on the pitch here in India and I don’t feel it’s necessary," he said. “Former cricketers, I don’t think they played on pitches like this. These are the kinds of pitches we want to play on, this is our strength.

“When you’re playing at your home, always play to your strength. Not worry about what people outside are talking about. Our strength is spin bowling and batting depth. Everyone uses that advantage as home side, so what’s wrong with that?"

While plenty has happened both on and off the field in India, the preparation of the pitch is once again sure to dominate the headlines leading up to the fourth and final Test.

Narendra Modi Stadium to break MCG record

An estimated 100,000 people could pack into Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Thursday for the first day of the fourth Test between India and Australia, which is set to break the previous record. The final crowd figure will be a source of fascination with up to 85,000 of the day one tickets in the 132,000-capacity stadium set aside for local families and students.

Initial fears that travelling Australian spectators could be locked out of having access to watch the start of the match have been eased. Fans can now access tickets online after previously only being able to purchase tickets for days two to five. The record attendance for a day of Test cricket stands at 91,112 from the start of the 2013-14 Ashes battle at the MCG.

The opening to the final match of the Border-Gavaskar series is set to be an extravaganza with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to attend.

with AAP

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