The Narendra Modi Stadium pitch in Ahmedabad has come under fire after the third Test between India and England wrapped up in less than two days.
India cruised to a comfortable 10-wicket victory on Thursday after England were bowled out for 112 and 81 on the lively deck, with spin bowlers claiming 28 of the 30 wickets.
It was the fewest runs scored in a completed Test since 1946 and the fewest balls bowled in a completed Test since 1935.
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Several cricket pundits blamed the pitch for the low-scoring affair, with former England captain Michael Vaughan the most outspoken critic.
“Entertaining .. YES .. but this is a awful pitch for Test cricket .. !!!! Complete lottery on day 2 !!” Vaughan tweeted on Thursday evening.
“If we are going to see these pitches … I have an answer to how it could work … Give the Teams 3 innings !!!”
Speaking on BBC5, Vaughan also warned about the dire financial repercussions of short-lived Test matches.
“My worry for the future of Test match cricket is Channel 4 would have bid an amount of money to put Test match cricket on the station for us all to see,” Vaughan said.
“Will they bid the next time knowing that they only got three days last week and that they only got two days this week? So that’s five days out of ten that they’ve paid for that they’ve got nothing back.
“Will they be thinking the next time a rights deal is available in the future, ‘Is it worth buying Test match cricket because you know what … you might get a two-day Test or a two-and-a-half-day Test, what are we going to do with the other two-and-a-half days?’
“That’s a worry for me.”
English cricket icon David Lloyd echoed Vaughan’s concerns writing for the Daily Mail: “Yes, techniques have been poor, but if this pitch is acceptable to the ICC and there’s more of this, there will be huge ramifications for world Test cricket.
“Boards make the bulk of their revenue from the length of play, certainly in England. Short Tests are a financial disaster.”
Although the spinners generated extra turn on day two, England’s batsmen only have themselves to blame for their pitiful performance in the first innings.
Six of England’s first-innings wickets came from deliveries that did not turn, with the batsmen simply playing down the wrong line.
On day one, the batting techniques of Jonny Bairstow, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Ben Foakes were a bigger concern than the state of the pitch.
And in the second innings, Bairstow’s was removed for a second-ball duck to an Axar Patel delivery which did not spin, the No. 3 batsman leaving a massive gap between bat and pad.
The Ahmedabad pitch undeniably favoured bowlers, but English pundits should probably be more worried about the Test side’s batting nine months out from an Ashes series.
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Indian opening batsman Rohit Sharma said after the match: “It was just the odd ball turning and it was a good wicket to bat in the first innings.
“The pitch had nothing as such. No demons. It was a nice pitch to bat on. Once you’re in, you can score, as you saw (in the second innings).”
England’s selectors were also guilty of misjudging the conditions, naming three strike pace bowlers in the starting XI.
James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Archer combined to snare just one wicket in the Test match, while India’s spin trio collectively mustered 19 breakthroughs.
The fourth Test between India and England will take place at the same venue, commencing on Thursday.