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Thursday, March 23, 2023

India VS Australia: What’s so great about the Nagpur Pitch?

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On the eve of the first Border-Gavaskar Test, accusations of pitch doctoring and rebuttals to those accusations dominate the debate.

Surface tensions appear to emerge practically every time India hosts a significant Test series – Nagpur 2015, Pune 2017 and Ahmedabad 2021 are three recent instances of matches that became characterised by the pitches on which they were played. Nagpur 2023 is now a definite possibility, with accusations of pitch doctoring, and rebuttals to those accusations, dominating debates on conventional, electronic, and social media on the eve of the first Border-Gavaskar Test, which begins on Thursday. You’ve come to the correct spot if you’re wondering why.

What’s the big deal about Nagpur’s pitch?

To begin with, it appears strange, with the majority of the pitch being pretty well-watered, with a scattering of grass and two strongly delineated barren sections.

In summary, left-handed batsmen are expected to struggle in Nagpur, particularly in the second innings, and especially when left-arm orthodox spinners place the ball in those rough spots beyond their off stump.

On Thursday, Australia’s lineup is set to have an unusually large number of left-handed batters. Meanwhile, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel, both left-arm orthodox spinners, are slated to lead India’s assault. On the other hand, right-handed hitters will dominate India’s lineup.

Australia has one left-arm orthodox spinner in their team, Agar, but it’s unclear if he’ll play. And, with Mitchell Starc out injured and Jaydev Unadkat unlikely to play, there won’t be any fast bowlers delivering from left-arm over to generate a substantial rough area outside the right-handers’ off stump during the game. Of course, there will be some left-arm spin from over the wicket, as well as some right-arm speed from around the wicket.

Meanwhile, India’s offspinner R Ashwin would most likely bowl against Australia’s left-handers. The pitch appears to have been created with the sole goal of maximising India’s home advantage in mind.

So far, Australia skipper Pat Cummins has maintained a diplomatic front, avoiding to engage in open criticism of the pitch. India skipper Rohit Sharma, meanwhile, was asked to reply to a narrative in the Australian press that had referred to the pitch as “doctored”.

It’s unusual for a team to have so many left-handers, therefore it’s probable that no team has ever had the opportunity to request a pitch like this before, presuming India did. Every team strives to take advantage of home field advantage.

When India travels outside of Asia, Ashwin and Jadeja seldom get to play together – wickets in England, South Africa, and New Zealand have tended to be extensively grassed and skewed towards fast bowling on all of India’s previous tours of those nations.

Meanwhile, Indian Test fields have earned a reputation for greatly favouring spinners in recent years, although India has also played a lot of home Tests on sports pitches. However, India appears to have returned to pitches that turn from the start.

Now, ahead of the Border-Gavaskar series, India must win at least three Tests to secure a spot in the 2023 World Cup final. Thus, the pressure of WTC points may result in a global increase in pitches that exaggerate home advantage.

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