India vs Australia Test Series: Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association Explains Indore Pitch

Indian cricket authorities are at odds over the ‘poor’ Indore pitch as it emerged the ground could be closed to host international matches.

Local ground staff working at the pitch when the team arrived Tuesday morning said there was a 60 per cent chance the game would take place on one strip and 40 per cent on another, but there is a suspicion that a third prepared could come into play.

During the Indore game, there were reports that Indian coach Rahul Dravid was offered a similar choice prior to this fiasco.

All three Ahmedabad wickets have significantly more grass after India lost the third Test and the pitch drew the wrath of the ICC.

The row from Indore continued until the eve of that game, when the local Cricket Association said: “Don’t blame us… it’s BCCI’s fault”.

The situation creates an interesting stalemate for what is shaping up as a part cricket match, part political rally with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appearing on day one at the 132,000-seat stadium named in his honor.

Australia won at Indore after falling 2-0 and it was only the third time in the last decade that a visiting team has overcome hostile local conditions – and brilliant local spin bowling.

Fans and broadcasters have been robbed of seven of a possible 15 days of cricket, with batsmen struggling in this convincing Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Australia coach Daniel Vettori said this week that batsmen were starting to think 30 was a good result.

Only one, India’s captain Rohit Sharma, has scored a century in the three Tests.

The fallout from Indore was significant and no one is sure what kind of pitch will be set up for the fourth test, but an old-fashioned Indian ‘road’ would at least ensure an Indian win.

The Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association stadium in Indore is at risk of suspension as host of international cricket after being handed a three-point dementia sanction by the ICC for the terrible wicket.

The problem is, as MPCA President Abhilash Khandekar told local media, the venue, which has only hosted three Tests, is not responsible for pitch preparation.

“Two BCCI curators came eight to ten days before the game. The pitch was prepared under her supervision. The MPCA played no role in the presentation,” he told the Times of India.

“I want to make it clear that MPCA, like any other state board association, has no role in setting the pitch in international games. BCCI curators come and receive direction from BCCI along with Indian team management.”

The Gabba received a ‘below average’ rating when attempts to create a lively pitch at the venue this season against South Africa went awry and the game was over in two days.

While a green seamer is more to Australia’s taste, the visitors on this occasion had one of the faster attacks in the world with a number of bowlers including Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada.

Match umpire Chris Broad struck the Indore wicket.

“The very dry field didn’t offer a balance between racket and ball, which favored spinners from the start. The fifth ball of the game broke the pitch surface and continued to break the surface on occasion, resulting in little or no seam movement, and there was excessive and uneven impact throughout the game,” he said.

Cricket awaits spinning wickets in India and many have defended the Holkar field including the MPCA chief.

“As for the end of games in three days, we have seen such games in Nagpur and Delhi as well. There was criticism of the pitch, but if you watch the post-game conference, both captains have supported the pitch, so we have nothing to add,” Khandekar said.

Australia trainer Andrew McDonald described the conditions as “extreme” but assistant captain Steve Smith found an advantage to the wicket when asked publicly.

“All the wickets have turned, we haven’t come more than three days, which shows that in all friendlies it has turned from day one, but personally I really enjoyed playing on this type of wickets,” he said.

“I prefer that to just a real flat wicket, which takes five days and can be boring in stages. There is always something going on at these gates. You have to work really hard for your runs. But it has been shown that the boys can do it. Guys can do it, you have to work hard for them and you need a bit of luck. On this one, maybe it would have been a bit too extreme, possibly from the first ball. I’m not entirely sure, but it was another treat nonetheless.”

Originally published as India v Australia Test series: Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association declares Indore Pitch India vs Australia Test Series: Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association Explains Indore Pitch

Ryan Sederquist

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