The pitches used in the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy between India and Australia have dominated headlines continuously with all three Test matches till now finishing within three days. The criticism got worse as the pitch in Indore was deemed “poor” by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and it even received three demerit points. Former India selector Saba Karim expressed his concern at the growing trend of spin-friendly pitches in the series and even wondered what the point of this strategy can be with respect to the spirit of the game. During a recent interaction, he lamented the lack of support for batsmen in the Indore pitch and said that an even contest will be appreciated by both fans and players.
“Australia have Steve Smith and India have Virat Kohli, arguably the top two batters in world cricket. But we haven’t gotten to see their batting in this series. What are we trying to prove by making such wickets?” he told India News at the end of Day 2 play in the Indore Test.
“In our desperation to qualify for the WTC final, we have lost the spirit of Test cricket. We have No.1 and No.2 teams competing here. It would have been a joy to watch them play if the contest was between all aspects of Test cricket,” the former India selector explained when asked about the controversy.
There was no twist in the tale as Australia turned the tables on India with an emphatic nine-wicket win in the third Test on a track that offered wicked turn and variable bounce, confirming their place in the World Test Championship (WTC) final.
Travis Head (49 not out) and Marnus Labuschagne (28 not out) survived some anxious moments before getting Australia home in 18.5 overs as the match got over in little over two days.
Wins in India come rare for the visiting teams and it was no different for Australia, who recorded their first victory on Indian soil in six years.
For India, it was only their third defeat in the last 10 years and they will need to rework their plans ahead of the final Test, beginning in Ahmedabad from March 9. The pitches in the series have also come under scathing criticism and it remains to be seen if India’s preference for spin-friendly tracks changes going ahead with the home team batters struggling badly to negotiate challenging conditions.
India managed only 109 and 163 in their two innings.
Considering the way Australia had collapsed in second innings of Nagpur and Delhi, “anything” was on the cards on Friday morning. Chasing a meagre 76, Australia were favourites but R Ashwin raised hopes of a miracle by getting Usman Khawaja caught behind in the second ball of the day.
The ball turned sharply and took a faint tickle on way to the wicketkeeper. The wicket added to the nervousness in the Australian dressing room.
Labuschagne eased some those nerves by square cutting Ravindra Jadeja for the first boundary of the day.
Both Labuschagne and Head, who is known his attacking approach, were looking to defend in the first 10 overs with Australia reaching 13 for one.
However, momentum changed decisively in favour of Australia after the ball change following the 10th over.
Ashwin was not happy even after the change of ball and that reflected in his bowling. Head smashed the star Indian spinner for a four and six over mid-on in the 11th over as the premier spinner was guilty of bowling too full.
Head took the attack to Jadeja in the following over, hitting one straight over the bowler’s head, and that also gave confidence to Labuschagne who went for the sweep in the same over to take the score 35 for one in 12 overs.
After that, there was no looking back for the Australian duo who had gained enough confidence to go for their shots.
Labuschagne hit the winning runs, a four over mid-wicket, to complete a memorable victory.
(With PTI inputs)
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