Just a draw away from qualifying for the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand, India could be gambling a bit too much by dishing out a surface for the fourth and final Test against England that aids turn from the start.
After the first match of the series, a desperate India, down 1-0 and with chances of qualifying for the World Test Championship (WTC) final seeming difficult, played England in the next two Tests on surfaces that helped the ball turn from as early as the first session.
It paid off and India went 2-1 up. It is a margin that should see them through to the WTC final. A draw in the fourth and final Test would suffice for India.
But then captain Virat Kohli’s Indian team is not one that is known to play for a draw. They keep drawing as the last option. This is what the team management has said time and again and it is a strategy that helped them win the fourth and final Test in Brisbane.
So, it came as no surprise when India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane mentioned in the media interaction on Tuesday that the surface would be similar to that in the second and third Test matches.
But a surface that is deemed to produce a result can backfire too for India if England gets a better grip of it this time. If the visitor’s bat first and put up a sizeable total, India, who will be batting fourth could be in a soup.
“No, I don’t think so,” said Kohli when asked if the pitch that helps turn will boomerang for India.
Kohli also said that they are not considering the WTC final since it is just a distraction as they want to win as many Test matches as possible.
A lot has been discussed over the batting technique employed by the two teams after the third Test. Over 2/3rd of the wickets in the last Test fell to deliveries that went on straight and quickly instead of turning since the batsmen were playing for the turn.
That could also be because they were playing with the pink ball that skidded through.
Both, England batsman Zak Crawley and Rahane on Tuesday said that the red ball will be easier to handle on such surfaces since the gloss doesn’t last that long as it does for the pink ball and it will grip the surface better.
But one thing the batsmen will still need to do. They will have to play the line well and, as former India batsmen Dilip Vengsarkar and Anshuman Gaekwad said over the past few days, they will have to play for straight balls and keep bat as the first line of defense.