Steve Smith has expressed his surprise over reports India is considering asking curators to prepare a green pitch for the fourth cricket Test in preparation for the World Test Championship final. Australia and India will do battle in the third Test on Wednesday, with the hosts holding a 2-0 lead in the four-match series.
With India already retaining the Border-Gavaskar trophy and holding an unassailable lead, it appears as though they've turned their attention to the World Test Championship final in June. India have already qualified for the match, which serves as the decider in the two-year championship.
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Their opponent remains up in the air, with Australia needing one more win to qualify. However Sri Lanka can still make it if Australia fails to win one of the final two Tests in India and they manage to beat New Zealand 2-0 later this month.
The first two pitches for the India-Australia series have been dry and dusty, offering plenty of assistance to India's masterful spinners. The deck for the third Test in Indore is expected to be similar, despite having a large patch of grass in the middle when first unveiled on Monday.
— Geoff Lemon Sport (@GeoffLemonSport) February 27, 2023
But speaking to reporters on Tuesday, India captain Rohit Sharma confirmed reports they were considering asking curators to produce a green, grassy wicket for the fourth Test. 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.
"There is definitely a possibility of that, we've spoken about it," Sharma said on Tuesday when asked about the Ahmedabad Test being played on a green pitch. "We need to get the guys ready for it (WTC final) as well.
"That thought process is definitely there. If we do what we do here and we get the result we want, we might kick off doing something different in Ahmedabad."
The move isn't unprecedented. Virat Kohli confirmed reports in 2017 that team management had ordered curators to produce fast pitches for Tests against Sri Lanka in Kolkata and Nagpur ahead of a crucial series in South Africa.
"Both teams will be neutrals," Sharma said about the WTC final. "It's going to be exciting, no home advantage, no conditions advantage.
"India has played a lot of cricket in England over the last few years, Australia has played a lot of cricket there. It's not going to be alien conditions as such for both teams, so it will be a good contest between the teams whoever the two teams are."
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Smith, who is standing in as captain for the third Test in the absence of Pat Cummins, did his pre-game press conference about 30 minutes after Sharma. He said he was unaware of India's plans for the fourth Test.
"Yeah, that's the first I've heard of it," a smiling Smith said. "I guess we'll wait and see. Hopefully we don't let them get the job done here. We'll see what happens from there after this Test."
Meanwhile, Smith believes the Test captaincy will help bring out the best in his batting. Wednesday's third Test will mark the third time Smith has deputised for Cummins since he became skipper before the 2021-22 Ashes series.
"It normally brings the best out of me," Smith said of the captaincy. "I'm excited about leading this week in Pat's absence.
"I know these conditions well, it's kind of like my second home playing over here. I've played a lot in India and I understand the intricacies of the game and what the wickets are likely to do."
Smith dominated in India when the Aussies last toured there in 2017, amassing 499 runs at an average of 71.28 with three centuries. However his returns so far this series have been underwhelming, making 37, 25 not out, 0 and 9.
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