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India vs England: Mohali pitch for third Test unlikely to be a rank turner

The Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) has provided good batting wickets with some assistance to seamers. Things should be similar in the as Virat Kohli and Alastair Cook lead their teams for the third Test, starting November 26.

cricket Updated: Nov 22, 2016 22:58 IST
Ashutosh Sharma
Ashutosh Sharma
Hindustan Times
PCA Stadium Mohali,India vs England,Ravichandran Ashwin
Indian spinners took control on the final day of the Test in Visakhapatnam with Ravichandran Ashwin leading the charge for captain Virat Kohli (right). While the Indian bowlers had support from the pitch in Vizag, Mohali could be a different ball game altogether. (AFP)

With four days to go for the third Test, India skipperVirat Kohli and his counterpart Alastair Cook will be keen to get an early look at the pitch and quiz curator Daljit Singh.

Pitches in the subcontinent usually determine on the first day which way the match is headed. The Rajkot track was batting friendly while the surface in Visakhapatnam helped spinners and at the same time was nowhere near being unplayable.

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The Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) has provided good batting wickets with some assistance to seamers and, former cricketer and PCA chief selector Bhupinder Singh Sr said it’s the weather that dictates the nature of a wicket.

“You can’t change the pitch overnight. The conditions and weather dictate the preparations. I have no qualms in saying that the pitch will and should give India some advantage but overall making a rank turner, that too overnight, is out of the question.

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“Vizag and Rajkot had warmer weather but winter is setting in here. The day temperature has dropped, so keeping in mind that India is playing, we will have a dry wicket with little grass so that it suits the home team’s game plan,” he said.

Knowing the nature of the PCA ground,the Indian selectors have bolstered the pace attack by adding Bhuvneshwar Kumar. With five pacers, including Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Hardik Pandya and Ishant Sharma, it looks India are bracing for seaming conditions.

“The morning and evening sessions are the most productive for seamers here. The morning dew and weather will also make sure that there is less wear and tear as compared to the other venues,” said Bhupinder.

Perhaps the only exception was the India-South Africa Test in November 2015. The match finished in three days with the trio of R Ashwin, Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja accounting for 19 wickets. The highest total of 201 was achieved in the first innings by India.

Cut to domestic cricket, and not a single pacer in India would have problems bowling at this venue. For long, PCA’s domestic game plan has hinged on its pacers.

“That match (India-South Africa) was at the start of the November and this one (India-England) is coming at the end. The conditions are different. Despite drafting an extra pacer, I don’t think India should change the winning combination. Jayant Yadav, Jadeja and Ashwin have contributed with the bat, while Umesh and Shami have bowled well in tandem. It’s up to the Indian team think tank to decide, all I can say is that it’s difficult to make a nasty turner here,” said Bhupinder.

As of now, there seems to be ample grass on the pitch, but it remains to be seen how much of it will be retained.

First Published: Nov 22, 2016 22:57 IST