Indian curators finally pick pitch for fourth Test
India's pesky curators have finally made the call on the pitch to be used for the fourth and final Test of the Border-Gavaskar series in Ahmedabad.
Just two days out from the match start, Australia were uncertain about the surface they would be playing on when they turned up for training on Tuesday.
India coach Rahul Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma both had lengthy inspections of the centre wicket when the hosts trained at the Ahmedabad ground on Tuesday.
Acting Australia captain Steve Smith was none the wiser when speaking in an embargoed media conference on Tuesday, saying he could not remember a pitch not being decided on so close to a Test starting.
But curators had made up the mind by the time the tourists arrived at the 132,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium on Wednesday ahead of the match beginning on Thursday.
"Rocked up today (Wednesday) and there was only one covered so it looks like they have chosen," Smith said.
"Looks like probably of the four wickets we've seen so far (in this series), potentially the flattest on day one.
"Having said that, it's 38 degrees out there at the moment, it's pretty hot and looks like it'll dry out as the day goes on.
"One of the groundsmen said they might be watering it again today.
"We'll wait and see, but in terms of the day before, it certainly looks like it's likely to do less on day one than we've seen so far."
Pitch discussion has been a constant during the first three Tests, with India purposely rolling out spin-friendly surfaces to suit their chances of toppling Australia.
But those tactics backfired during the third Test in Indore as Australia pulled off an upset nine-wicket win in a match that ended early on day three.
Spin accounted for 26 of the 31 wickets taken at Holkar Stadium, leading to the International Cricket Council (ICC) slapping the pitch with the dreaded "poor" rating.
After the match, Sharma backed India's decision to demand curators prepare heavily spinning pitches that make it difficult for batters to play on.
Officials in Indian team uniforms have been spotted out near the centre wicket for extended periods ahead of all three Tests so far in Nagpur, Delhi and Indore.
"We want to play to our strength at home and not worry what the people outside are talking about. Our strength is spin and our batting depth," he said.
The president of the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA), Abhilash Khandeka, said Indore had been treated unfairly for the state of the pitch.
Indore was a last-minute choice to host the third Test after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on February 12 deemed the ground in Dharamsala to be unsuitable for the match.
"Two curators from BCCI had come eight to 10 days before the match. The pitch was prepared under their supervision. The MPCA had no role in making the pitch," Khandeka told The Times of India this week.