The Test to be held in Ranchi, against Australia next year, may not last five days. The manner in which the pitch slowed down and had uneven carry during the India-New Zealand ODI, there is growing doubt that it may behave the same way during the Test.
If it does, the pitch could be a nightmare for batsmen. “As long as there is moisture in the pitch, the ball will come on to the bat. Once it dries out, the pitch will suddenly become slow. It will get worse on the second or third day. Unless they have immaculate technique or the required patience, batsmen will have a difficult time,” said an experienced curator from the region.
The pitch rolled out for Wednesday’s ODI started to slow down after the 10th over. As a result, both batsmen and wicketkeepers had to consistently adjust to the uneven carry. No one apart from Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli seemed comfortable adjusting to it.
Martin Guptill and Tom Latham got off to a great start because they got a hard ball on an unused pitch. The deterioration happened because of the clay content. “The clay content is too high. It is not the normal clay that we are used to. As a result, the pitch starts to slow down and breaks up once it gets enough sunshine,” said the curator. Fissures in Indian pitches are never good news for batsmen.
According to him, it will be impossible to change the nature of the pitch in Ranchi, one of India’s newest Test centres.
“Unless there is a covering of grass to hold the soil together, it will be impossible to ensure good carry,” he said. Grass is not considered an ally for international matches at home, despite the BCCI introducing domestic matches at neutral venues.
Even in domestic cricket, Ranchi hasn’t held out hope. In the last Ranji match between Chhattisgarh and Tripura here, 40 wickets fell in three days.
What also needs to be asked is why Ranchi produced such a pitch despite getting notice for this ODI almost four months back. The pitch isn’t great advertisement for a venue about to host its first Test in a few months’ time. But again, this is the type of pitch that can fetch India an easy win.