It’s not a nice time to be a batter in India right now. The host team is getting ready to turn heads against Australia in order to go to the World Test Championship final.
The hitters have paid a price for Rohit Sharma’s team’s 2-1 series advantage. The pitches have sparked a discussion about their suitability for Test cricket. The World Test Championship (WTC) was created by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to give context to Test matches and to boost the sport’s sagging fortunes. Within three days, all three tests were completed.
The third Test was held at Indore, which was a terrible choice and backfired on the hosts. In addition, the pitches didn’t get a positive review. The ICC Match Referee gave Nagpur and Delhi a “average” rating and gave Indore a “bad” rating.
Rahul Dravid, the coach of India, defended the choice to advocate for turning tracks on Tuesday, saying that India cannot be singled out. To earn extra points, bowler-friendly pitches are being implemented in other nations as well.
“I won’t go too much into it. The match referee is entitled to make his opinion, share his thoughts on the pitches. Doesn’t really matter whether I agree with his readings or not. What I will say is that sometimes with WTC points at stake, you are looking to play on, sometimes, a wicket that produces result. It can happen at times, and not only in India. Across the world you are seeing that; at times it’s difficult to get that balance perfectly right,” he told a news conference after Tuesday’s practice at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
Although it is bad for the club, the batters have not publicly complained, even though it is bad for their careers. In this series, Rohit Sharma’s century in the first Test is the only one.
Dravid said: “In the short period I’ve been coach, I’ve seen quite challenging conditions for batsmen. Data and stats prove to us that over the last four-five years it’s been some of the most difficult conditions to bat, all over the world not only in India.”
Due to his century drought, Ajinkya Rahane’s Test career may have been ended by such pitches. Before returning, even Cheteshwar Pujara lost his position.
How then do you assess a batter’s performance on these tracks? According to Dravid, the circumstances are taken into account when evaluating a player’s contribution.
“It’s really about being realistic about what is a good performance on some of the challenging wickets we are playing on. If you look at the last 3-4 years, all over the world wickets have got a lot more challenging. So, you have to be realistic about what the standards are now. Just understanding that in these games one good performance can change the game. We saw that with Rohit, we’ve seen that many times over. It’s just being realistic in the assessment of our batters, their averages and numbers. Don’t really look so much into it.”
Dravid asserted that rewarding little achievements will assist batters handle challenging pitches. “Just backing our batters to understand that these are challenging conditions and they’re the same for both sides. And for them to be able to use it as a challenge and an opportunity to do something special. It might not necessarily be about scoring big double hundreds, but you know scores of 50-60 or 60-70 might be really, really good scores in some conditions.”
Are the pitches getting harder everywhere because of the competition to qualify for the WTC final? In the 2021–22 Kanpur Test, Dravid emphasised the points India lost as New Zealand managed to hold on for a draw after losing nine wickets in the second innings. “I don’t know, it could be one of the reasons because yes, there is a huge premium on results… I certainly think there’s tough competition all round. Every team is getting results at home or are putting in really good performances, so there is a premium on results. Whether it’s home or away, there’s a definite premium on getting wins in this competition.”
“You get four points for a draw and 12 for a win, so there is a premium on that, no question about it.”
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