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Five horror Indian pitches where spinners ‘killed’ batsmen

The pitch for the first Test in Pune has already taken its toll on batsmen. HT looks at five instances in the past where dubious pitches produced results but not fascinating cricket.

cricket Updated: Feb 24, 2017 23:14 IST
Siddhartha Sharma
India national cricket team
Cricket - India v Australia - First Test cricket match - Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune, India - 24/02/17. Australia's Steve O'Keefe celebrates the wicket of India's Ajinkya Rahane. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui(REUTERS)

There are times when home conditions are an advantage. But that was not the case in the first Test between India vs Australia in Pune.

India dug their own grave in Pune against Australia as they fell like nine pins and were bundled out for 105 after lunch on Day 2. India lost seven wickets for 11 runs on a pitch that was offering sharp turn, giving Australia a 155-run lead, which extended to 298 by stumps on Day 2.

Australia have executed their plans well, with Stephen O’Keefe taking 6/35, his best figures in Tests. On a dry and abrasive pitch, this Test may not five days. Here are five instances of dubious pitches that produced results but not fascinating cricket.

Australia’s Michael Clarke holds up the ball after his five-wicket haul against India in the fourth Test in Mumbai, November 2004. He ended with 6/9. (Getty Images)

India vs Australia, 4th Test at Wankhede Mumbai, 2004

India had lost the series and heading into the Mumbai Test, they were playing only for pride. After a rain-ruined first day, the Wankhede pitch offered assistance for the bowlers from the first day. Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz shared six wickets between them and India were all out for 104.

Australia put up 205 on board but Anil Kumble and Murali Kartik picked up nine wickets between them. VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar scored half centuries to give India a lead of 107 runs but Michael Clarke stole the show by taking 6/9. Australia were bowled out for 93 with Harbhajan Singh taking five wickets to give India a consolation win. However, Australia captain Ricky Ponting said, “It was nowhere near a Test wicket.”

In the Kanpur Test against South Africa in 2008, Harbhajan Singh (in pic) and Virender Sehwag were virtually unplayable. (Getty Images)

India vs South Africa, 3rd Test at Green Park Kanpur, 2008

On a dry and cracked pitch. South Africa, who were aiming for a series win, batted first and put up 265. India responded with 325, securing a lead of 60 runs.On the third day, the Kanpur pitch crumbled and Harbhajan Singh wreaked havoc. Virender Sehwag’s offspin was also unplayable as he picked three wickets to bowl South Africa out for 121. India chased down the target to draw the series 1-1 but the Kanpur pitch came in for heavy criticism from captain Graeme Smith.

India vs England, 2nd Test at Wankhede Mumbai, 2012

Having secured a victory in the first Test at Ahmedabad, MS Dhoni demanded a rank turner at the Wankhede in order to seal the series. However, England bounced back and turned the tables.

Cheteshwar Pujara smashed his second century in the series but Kevin Pietersen responded with a brilliant 186 as England took a slender lead. Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann ran through the Indian batting order and got them out for 142. England secured victory by 10 wickets.

India vs South Africa, 1st Test at Mohali, 2015

On a dry unlike Mohali pitch, India put up 201 in 68 overs. R Ashwin began with the new ball and wreaked havoc by picking up five wickets with Jadeja and Mishra sharing the remaining five. SA were all out for 184. Pujara took India past 200 again. Jadeja picked up a five-wicket haul as India secured victory in three days but the nature of the pitch was questioned.

India vs South Africa, 3rd Test at Jamtha Nagpur, 2015

The underprepared Nagpur pitch gave the spinners lethal turn and bounce. India managed 215 in the first innings till the final session. South Africa were bowled out for 79. The pitch continued to deteriorate and R Ashwin picked up 7/66 to give India a 124-run win. After this Test, the ICC imposed sanctions on the Nagpur pitch, terming the surface ‘poor’.