In his third delivery of the second over of Australia’s innings, Umesh Yadav swung the new ball away, prompting David Warner to play at it but instead got beaten. Then on the fifth ball, Umesh banged in a bouncer that Wriddhiman Saha had to leap and collect above his head with one hand. (DAY 3 HIGHLIGHTS)
Next over, Bhuvneshwar Kumar landed a delivery on a crack and it reared up to Warner, causing him to be hit on the glove and then on to his chest. (DAY 3 SCORECARD)
Those three deliveries in two overs worked up the fans. Many were wondering if this pitch was like the old WACA of the 70’s and 80’s where batsmen were terrorised by pace and bounce. Was this Kingsmead, Durban or the Gabba in Brisbane?
In those three balls, Indian pace bowling had come off age. Umesh, bowling in excess of 140 kmph, was troubling the Australian top order with the same weapons that they would use back home. Armed with a little bit of movement, India’s bowlers took the top three out cheaply before they had eliminated the 32-run deficit. When Bhuvneshwar took out Steve Smith for 17, the series was decided.
Help for Australia’s pacers
Not only did the Indian pacers get help, but the Australian pace bowling duo of Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood also found the conditions to their liking. While Hazlewood focused on metronomic accuracy, Cummins exploited the extra pace and bounce on this wicket. Both bowlers ended with combined figures of 55-16-145-4 at an economy rate of just 2.6.
Before the start of the Test, HPCA head curator Sunil Chauhan had said that this would be a true Test wicket and would provide immense help to pacers. After three days, pacers from both sides have taken a combined total of 11 out of 30 wickets, the second-most in this series after the Bangalore Test where 12 wickets were taken by the pacers.
One of the best pitches in this series
On day 1, Australian wicketkeeper Matthew Wade said that this pitch offered the best carry for the bowlers in this whole series and it had everything for pacers and spinners. After the end of day 2, Australian spinner Nathan Lyon said this pitch was similar to Australian wickets for the bounce.
KL Rahul, who smashed his fifth fifty in six innings, said the first session he faced on day 2 was the most difficult of his career. “It has been a fantastic cricket wicket,” said Rahul.
With India on the cusp of winning the series, the team will be happy that they managed to do it in conditions that suited the visitors more. The conclusion of a series on a true Test pitch is just the result India have been seeking in what has been a season of dominance.