The lively wickets at the Asia Cup have come in for some scrutiny since the tournament began. There was plenty of grass on the pitch for the first three games. However, in the last two matches, the strip has been brown, giving the batsmen a reason to smile.
During Sri Lanka’s match against Bangladesh on Sunday, the middle overs saw the pitch slow down and offer turn for the spinners. So far in this series, games have been low-scoring. The India-Pakistan game didn’t see a single six being hit.
That changed on Sunday as Bangladesh batsman Shabbir Rahman produced some big hits in his 80, including three sixes. In the earlier games, the batsmen struggled to play big shots with seam movement on offer.
PITCHES NOT IDEAL
Skipper MS Dhoni was critical of the seaming wickets. “In games over here, it has been very difficult to come out and play big shots. In one game, we scored 170 (166 versus Bangladesh) but it seemed like we would score 140. Because of the firepower in our batting and a few good overs, we managed to do that. Otherwise, all other games have been low-scoring ones, which is not good.”
Due to seamer-friendly conditions, spinners too have had a quiet time. R Ashwin, who was being used by Dhoni as an attacking bowler in the last series, has been sparingly used so far. Against Pakistan, he was the last bowler to be brought on.
“We were expecting slow wickets when we came here. But that has not been the case. We have to play with the kind of wickets that are given to us,” Ashwin said on Monday.
“It is a challenge to play on such wickets. We are just using this positively as it is helping our batsmen to play in tough conditions, which will only help them prepare well ahead of the World T20,” Ashwin added.
Ashwin was India’s standout performer during the home series against Sri Lanka, even opening the bowling. In three T20Is against Sri Lanka, he picked nine wickets, including a four-wicket match haul. In this series though, he has taken one wicket in two games.
Spin, considered India’s main strength, has been blunted so far, leaving a lot of responsibility on pacers Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah and all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
It has helped India that the trio has delivered. As they take on Sri Lanka, the team will be hoping that conditions allow Ashwin to become a strike force again.