India call The Oval pitch 'under-prepared' after staging a comeback in WTC final vs Australia

Jun 10, 2023 01:40 PM IST

After stitching a 109-run partnership for the 7th wicket with Ajinkya Rahane that kept India alive, Shardul Thakur called The Oval pitch "underprepared".

As early as the 8th over of the World Test Championship final, Mohammed Siraj surprised Marnus Labuschagne by getting a ball to zip off a good length. It hit the Australian batter on his hand, forcing him to lose grip of his bat. Deliveries like that ending up giving blows to the batters of both sides have only increased as the Test match progressed at The Oval.

ICC World Test Championship Final: Indian players celebrate the wicket of Travis Head(Action Images via Reuters)
ICC World Test Championship Final: Indian players celebrate the wicket of Travis Head(Action Images via Reuters)

Virat Kohli was out to a delivery that bounced a lot more than expected. Ajinkya Rahane was hit on his fingers late on Day 2. KS Bharat coped with a blow on his elbow. Shardul Thakur got a nightmarish time against Pat Cummins on Day 3. He was hit on the right hand twice in the same over. Rahane got his fingers jammed again. Labuschagne once again lost the grip on his bat in the second innings.

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Despite 888 in the first three days, The Oval pitch has shown signs of being dangerous on multiple occasions. The ball getting more bounce on Day 2 and Day 3 is nothing unusual. But the problem starts when it rears from a good length every now and then with the odd ball also keeping a tad low catching the batters by surprise.

After stitching a 109-run partnership for the seventh wicket with Ajinkya Rahane that kept India in the contest, Shardul Thakur called The Oval pitch "underprepared".

‘Many balls kept low and some also bounced’: Shardul Thakur on Oval Pitch

"I think there is an area from where the ball is coming up, there is a little grass around the crack and the length is such that batsmen can't leave the deliveries easily. You have to play committedly because we saw today many balls kept down and I mean that is an area of good length, and I mean, that area is at a good length, a little short of length. So that's the area where the batsmen can't immediately see and leave the ball. You have to play it. And if it bounces from there – then good luck for the batsmen. It was bouncing from the other end too – but from a bit behind, so the batsmen were getting time to adjust, I think only Virat got the bounce from further on – but for all the rest, it bounced from behind," said Shardul after the third play's.

The all-rounder struck his third successive fifty at the venue to take India to 296 in their first innings after being 152/6 at one stage. His partnership with Rahane, who scored a gritty 89 made sure India were not outplayed in the Test. Australia were still ahead in the game with a sizeable lead but Shardul was hopeful of chasing down a total in access of 400 in the last innings. He, however, also talked about the variable bounce making batting difficult.

The last time Shardul came here, he struck fifties in both innings and picked up three crucial wickets to help India beat England. But when asked about his feelings of doing well at The Oval, Shardul said, the pitch was a lot better last time around as it got easier as the game progressed, unlike this one which has shown up and down nature.

"The pitch is definitely different. The last time we played here, there was some help obviously in the first innings. The ball was doing a bit and everyone has observed that whenever there is a cloud cover, the ball in England moves around. It was the same story last time and we were batting first, I remember. But as the game went on, as teams started taking rollers in the morning or during the change of the innings, the pitch changed a lot. It became flat to bat on last time around but this time it's not anything like that - it was under-prepared I felt going in and like we saw yesterday and today that it was a bit up and down," he said.

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