Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

With just a day left for the first Test match of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy between India and Australia, Cricket Australia have revealed first pictures of the Nagpur pitch ahead of the high-octane clash.

It is evident from the first look of the pitch that with no grass, the surface can be a rank turner. India at home always go for spinning tracks and with Ravichandran Ashwin in their ranks, the track could offer spin from the first session itself.  

Accusation of Aussie experts

A few Aussie experts have accused India of ‘doctoring’ the Nagpur pitch to suit the home side. As per Australian star batter Steve Smith, the wicket was pretty dry and the left-arm spinners are likely to extract extensive help from the surface. Back in Australia, some of the former cricketers have sought International Cricket Council’s (ICC) intervention on the matter.

As per reports in some sections of Australian media, only the center of the Nagpur wicket was watered and rolled. However, the exact area which will be targeted by left-handers was left dry.

As per the accusation, such a step has been taken at both ends of the wicket in an attempt to make things difficult for left-handers like David Warner, Usman Khawaja, and Travis Head.

Several former Australian cricketers and experts labeled India’s preparation as ‘pitch doctoring’. Most of them demanded that the ICC should step in and look into the matter seriously.

Rohit’s response

Responding to the allegation of ‘doctored pitch’, India skipper Rohit Sharma said the focus needs to be on the match and not the pitch.

“Just focus on cricket and not the pitch. All the 22 guys out there are all quality players,” said Rohit during a presser.

However, Rohit admitted that Nagpur surface is going to offer help to the spinners. He emphasized on the importance of rotating strike.

“It is important to have a plan and figure a way out to play spin well. Everyone has a different method to tackle spin. Some like to sweep, some reverse and some attack the bowler. You need to rotate strike and sometimes you need to counterattack as well to tackle the spinners,” said Rohit.

Gavaskar fires back

While talks of Nagpur pitch have already taken centre-stage ahead of the first Test, legendary Sunil Gavaskar has responded fiercely. He pointed out that Australia have no right to complain about the quality of Indian pitches as their own wickets have come under scrutiny.

The former India captain singled out the Brisbane pitch at Gabba, which saw the Test match between Australia and South Africa in December last year finishing in just two days. The former skipper also pointed out how the surface was a lot more dangerous than any Indian pitch can ever be.

“The Aussies have started the mind games by talking about the pitches that were on offer when they toured here last. A country where a Test match finishes in two days has no right to moan about Indian pitches. On a turner the only issue is the reputation of batters. There is no threat to their life and limbs on those surfaces,” said Gavaskar.