Updated: November 26, 2015 11:17:51 pm
The scoreboard suggests that the third Test at Nagpur has now become a game of Russian roulette. The Jamtha curator Amar Kalekar has prepared a pitch that accounted for 32 scalps by stumps on Day Two.
India are done with both their innings. South Africa are on the precipice after folding up for 79 in their first dig and losing a couple more in their second. They need another 278 runs for victory, a target which is beyond their reach. By Friday afternoon, the hosts are expected to pocket this four-match series. But when batting becomes a trial by luck then that is poor advertisement for Test cricket. Worse, this is happening on the BCCI president’s home patch.
AB de Villiers’ dismissal this morning summed up the state of affairs: Ravindra Jadeja had pitched the ball short and AB wanted to work it onto the leg side. But the ball stopped and turned square, taking a leading edge back to the bowler who ran towards short mid-on to complete the catch. A lesser batsman might have missed the delivery altogether. AB managed some wood on it.
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Indian batters, too, struggled to come to grips with the conditions. Thankfully, from their point of view, the visitors didn’t have anyone of Ravi Ashwin’s class in their ranks — the Tamil Nadu offie is the difference between the two sides. No disrespect to Jadeja, for he has performed commendably with 16 wickets at 10.31 in five innings in his comeback series. But Ashwin is the reason why the Saffers are looking so tentative against spin. They’re batting with demons in their heads. Without him, it becomes an even contest.
India wanted to intimidate South Africa by spin. They’ve cleverly executed their plans. But here at Nagpur, they might have stretched things a little too far. They were well within their rights to produce a rank turner. But when a pitch has variable turn, variable pace and uneven bounce, it becomes almost impossible for the batters.
On Thursday, at Jadavpur University’s Salt Lake Campus ground, India ‘A’ and U-19 coach Rahul Dravid was very critical of the string of low scores in the Ranji Trophy this season. He put it down to bad pitches. The batting legend, however, decided to leave alone international cricket which he thought was result-oriented. Yes, no one wants featherbeds and drab draws.
Result pitches are welcome in Tests but results should come on Day Five, not on the third day.
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