Even before a delivery was bowled in the opening Test between India and Australia in Pune, there had been plenty of talk about the nature of the surface that was prepared and whether it would provide an even contest between the bat and ball.
Australian skipper Steve Smith studied the pitch and at the toss concluded that the ball would turn from Day 1. He was spot on. No doubt that the pitch for the first Test of Australia’s visit to India has helped spin bowlers.
But what did raise a few eyebrows was that it started to turn square from the first session of play. The Australian batting unit somehow withstood the challenge and posted a total of 260.
But shockingly, the visitors with their varied attack and accurate finger spinners then bowled India out for 105 on it. The pitch, which allowed bowlers to create chances regularly, then attracted plenty of comment about how it is not a good Test match .
What was even more striking that at the end of the Day 2 play, 24 wickets had fallen for just more than 500 runs.
However, the fact that the Australian openers put together an 82-run partnership on Day 1 and Steve Smith hit a century in the second innings, not to mention India’s own KL Rahul making 68, showed that batting could be difficult, but runs could be made with patience and careful shot selection. The pitch did not have demons in it and what was needed to survive on it was proper application.
What must also be kept in mind is that apparently the pitch had not been watered for four days and thereby it bore a wear and tear look from the start itself.
The blame for India’s batting cannot be put on the Pune pitch. No doubt it was assisting the spinners with sharp turn and bounce, it was for both teams and Australia batsmen were far better than their opponenets.
And remember, don’t judge a pitch until both teams have batted. After the Test, the pitch was for the spinners but not as bad as India made it look.