Skipper Rohit Sharma has hit out at criticism of India’s pitches after the hosts lost the third Test to Australia on a wickedly turning Indore track that was later slapped with three demerit points by the ICC.
India charged to victory in the first two Tests under similar circumstances inside three days, with Australian batting collapses raising concerns about the surfaces.
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This time it was Rohit’s side – widely considered the best players of spin in the world – who were beguiled by Nathan Lyon and company on a sideways-turning track with low bounce thrown in for good measure.
Thirty-one wickets fell in a shade over two days.
“This pitch talk is getting too much. Every time we play in India it’s always about the pitch,” Rohit told reporters.
Rohit highlighted the first Test between South Africa and the West Indies, which ended inside three days on a fast Centurion surface on Thursday, and said that batting-friendly tracks produced “boring” contests.
“It’s about skills,” Rohit said.
“Why are we not talking about Nathan Lyon — how well he bowled?
“How well (Cheteshwar) Pujara batted in the second innings, how well Usman Khawaja played?”
Lyon returned match figures of 11-99, with his eight wickets in India’s second innings setting up Australia’s victory.
Pujara was the only batter who stood firm for the hosts, withstanding 142 balls for his 59 when no one else managed to face even 40 deliveries.
Khawaja anchored Australia’s first innings, top-scoring with 60 before the visitors collapsed.
Despite wickets falling rapidly Rohit said that “out of the 10 wickets maybe one or two where the pitch did help the bowler, but other than that it was the skill of the bowler that foxed the batsman”.
However the ICC clearly had other views, later giving the pitch a “poor” rating while handing down three demerit points.
“The pitch, which was very dry, did not provide a balance between bat and ball, favouring spinners from the start,” match referee Chris Broad said in his report.
“The fifth ball of the match broke through the pitch surface and continued to occasionally break the surface providing little or no seam movement and there was excessive and uneven bounce throughout the match.”
The win was only Australia’s second in Tests in India since 2004 and stand-in skipper Steve Smith said he had enjoyed the spin challenge.
“I prefer this more than just a genuine flat wicket that goes five days and can be boring in stages,” Smith said.
“There’s always something happening on these wickets — you’ve got to really work hard for your runs.”
Indian cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar backed up Rohit’s assessment while turning the spotlight on Australia’s pitches.
“One thing I would like to know, there was this Test match in November in Brisbane (at the) Gabba, where the match finished in two days. How many demerit points did that pitch get?” Gavaskar told India Today.
The final Test of the series begins on Thursday in Ahmedabad.