The pitch continues to dominate the narrative whenever teams visit India for a Test series. Through different degrees of spin-friendly tracks, the hosts negate the strength of their adversaries. More often, it results in success. However, there is a hint of mischief in the way the pitches have behaved for the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Pune was rated ‘poor’ by the International Cricket Council. They can still be excused, for this was the first Test they were hosting. But the script was the same in Bengaluru, one of India’s oldest Test centres. There are speculations that the Indian team is trying to manipulate pitches, to make sure that Australia does not dominate. But those were just speculations.
Ranchi provided the slip when the pitch curator revealed things he should not have. He said three pitches had been prepared and it was up to the captain or the team management to choose one. Even though the home team does that all over the world, officially the pitch is to be provided by groundsmen and not to be chosen by the hosts. By speaking the avoidable truth, the curator has made a tactical error and handed the Australian media a chance to cry over something. Already busy trying to unsettle Virat Kohli, they lapped it up to spin a conspiracy theory.
While a theory like that appears far fetched, pitches have been sub-standard this series. Having home advantage is not new, it is even permissible. But the extent of the advantage becomes the talking point in case of excessive assistance for spinners from the first day. Pune was over in three days. Bengaluru saw four. The reaction would have been completely different had India lost the second Test. India has seen rank turners prepared for the odd match, not one after another in a series, like now and against South Africa in 2015. Not only does it involve risk of backfiring, reduce scope to display other skills and makes the game less of a spectacle, it also denies the public the fun of watching a longer match.