Traditionally, India don’t like being surprised by home pitches. But this pitch has already thrown up a few.
After the first day, Ajinkya Rahane had said the pitch was ‘different’. On Saturday, home boy Wriddhiman Saha said he has rarely encountered this type of pitch even in domestic cricket. In another time, under a different captain, India would have probably been up in arms against such a pitch. Not now. Not at least with the wide stock of bowlers they have.
Two days into this Test and Virat Kohli and India coach Anil Kumble have already walked their talk of having all bases covered. R Ashwin has bowled all of five overs, the first two of which cost 18 runs. Ravindra Jadeja was in the middle of a miserly and effective spell when he was pulled out of the attack by Kohli. Reason was the probability of more movement due to the floodlights which his seamers had to exploit. Saha confirmed that.
“There was more movement under lights. The vision gets affected under lights. Bhuvneshwar and Shami were bowling in the right areas too and that’s why we got three quick wickets,” he said. Asked about his opinion about his home pitch, Saha was frank. “Some balls stayed low while some had extra bounce and carry. Maybe in one or two matches I had seen such kind of pitch here. But it’s a result-oriented pitch which is good for both the teams,” he said.
Many a time Kohli has backed the theory of five specialist bowlers. In Kanpur though, he favoured four, opting for Shami’s accuracy and Umesh Yadav’s pacea long with two spinners. The grass on the Eden Gardens pitch and muggy weather meant Kumar had to be played in place of Yadav. Kumar’s has been a perplexing case so far. Rarely have India dropped a bowler who took a match-winning five-wicket haul just two Tests ago. But not often have India possessed such good reserves.
For Kumar, the conditions were tailormade. “In India you rarely get this kind of wicket, so I wanted to make full use of it,” said Kumar after the match. Having got the wickets of Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls earlier in the day with back of the length deliveries, Kumar got down to work quickly after the lights came on. While the delivery that got rid of Ross Taylor was impeccable in terms of line and length, very quickly Kumar’s wrists came in action too.
Like the delivery that got rid of Mitchell Santner --- the ball pitched to move in so quickly that he had no time to bring down his bat. Matt Henry also found his nippy, angling in delivery too much too handle. “It was one of my dreams to take five wickets in India. So when I saw that the pitch would help me, I told myself I want to take five wickets,” Kumar said. A second blinding spell of 3-0-13-3 ultimately fulfilled Kumar’s wish. But more importantly, it vindicated the way India handle their assets.