“It’s a typical Kanpur pitch, low and bouncy,” was India coach Anil Kumble’s observation on seeing the Green Park track on Tuesday. He even said the wicket would help the spinners.
On Wednesday afternoon, curator Shiv Kumar and his men checked the bounce before handing over the pitch to match referee David Boon. After local bowlers checked the turn and bounce of the main wicket, Kumar had a satisfied look as no delivery dipped, or zipped through.
“If you don’t play a risky shot, you won’t lose your wicket. One has to apply himself as there will be equal opportunities for bowlers and batsmen,” Shiv Kumar had said on the eve of the historic 500th Test. This seemed true on Thursday when skipper Virat Kohli misjudged his hook shot and paid the price after scoring just nine.
There were puffs of dust from the start, but the pitch didn’t develop cracks. Neither was there sharp movement in the air, and neither did the ball turn dramatically off the pitch. Minutes before the end of play, a low one from Mitchell Santner foxed Ravindra Jadeja, and he just about managed to keep it out.
“It’s a difficult wicket to bat on as it’s on the slower side,” said Murali Vijay.” It’s going to be difficult for them also. We have quality spinners like Ashwin and Jadeja and this surface will help them in getting wickets. It’s a good total to defend,” said the opener, who struck his second half-century in three months after scoring the first one in a Duleep Trophy game earlier this month.
The pitch also left Kumble concerned, especially as India have chosen six batsmen and two spinners on a wicket which is known to be a rank turner. Before the pitch was covered, Kumble had a close look at both ends and held a brief discussion with the curator. He appeared to have spotted cracks and footmarks on the wicket.
Young left-arm spinner Santner got purchase from the wicket, and accepted he had high hopes. “I knew there was something for me in this pitch so I kept hitting the right spot,” he said after finishing with three for 77.
Santner’s first wicket was a treat to watch as he was a little quicker through the air and just got it to move away from KL Rahul. The opener tried to play in a hurry to edge it and wicketkeeper BJ Watling pulled off a splendid catch.
Shiv Kumar defended the pitch. “The bounce and pace was good. The dust is there due to the hot and humid conditions, but it will improve as the weather got better in the second half of the day.”