The 22-yard pitch at Feroz Shah Kotla will be the subject of everyone’s curiousity as an in-form India eye their biggest series win against South Africa when they square off in the final cricket Test of the four-match rubber in New Delhi on Thursday.
Having taken an unassailable 2-0 lead, India will be looking for another comprehensive victory against the Proteas, which will propel them to the second position in the ICC Test rankings.
However, with the Jamtha pitch at BCCI president Shashank Manohar’s hometown Nagpur incurring the wrath of ICC match referee Jeff Crowe, who rated it as sub-standard, the focus will be firmly on the pitch at the national capital.
Team Director Ravi Shastri and skipper Virat Kohli might have shrugged off queries about pitches prepared for the preceding Tests in Nagpur, Bangalore and Mohali, but they will have to live with it for the next five days.
While the Feroz Shah Kotla track is not expected to be a rank turner, the primary character of the pitch has always been of low and slow nature, which is unlikely to change.
India’s spin troika have so far accounted for 47 out of the 50 South African wickets in the five completed innings across three Tests.
Of them, Ravichandran Ashwin emerged as the leader of the pack with 24 victims to his credit, while Ravindra Jadeja has made an impressive comeback with 16 scalps. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra has only seven wickets to his credit, but his victims have been critical in the context of the twin victories.
Earlier, Mishra pointed out that the Indian spinners did not get a lot of accolades for their efforts and rewards on a track that has now been officially documented as under-prepared with some of the deliveries turning square from the first session.
One of the wickets that caught the eye was the manner in which right-handed batsman Simon Harmer was bowled with the delivery landing well outside the leg-stump and going onto hit the top of off-stump. But that sort of thing is unlikely to happen at the Kotla, where the spinners will need more patience as the turn will be slower.
For a change, Jadeja could prove to be a tad more effective on this track with his immaculate line and length bowling just like Delhi found a potent weapon in left-arm orthodox spinner Manan Sharma, who took 21 wickets from four Ranji matches at this ground.