Kolkata: So, here we go! Virat Kohli and his men may have reason enough to counter criticism they have been facing after the humiliating loss to Australia at Pune. According to a release by the International Cricket Council (ICC), Chris Broad of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Match Referees, who was also officiating as the match referee for the first Test at Pune, has rated the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium pitch as “poor.”
The release also states, “Broad, in accordance with Clause 3 of the ICC Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process, submitted his report to the ICC in which he expressed concern over the quality of the pitch. The report has been forwarded to the Board of Control for Cricket in India, which now has 14 days to provide its response.” The ICC is now awaiting the response of the board and it will be reviewed by ICC’s General Manager (Cricket), Geoff Allardice and a representative from the elite panel of Match Referees, Ranjan Madugalle.
This would no doubt open a can of worms since the Indian team struggled to read the turn of Aussie spinner Steve O’ Keefe who romped home with 12 scalps in the match helping his team hand out an embarrassing 333-run defeat to India. But let’s not get carried away. What if the Indian batters had no clue? Take the case of the Australian team that managed scores of 260 and 285 in the two innings against world-class spinners like Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja who usually look unplayable on Indian wickets. Steve Smith despite running on luck scored a hundred in the second innings when the wicket had further deteriorated. In the first innings, two Aussies, MT Renshaw and Mitchell Starc, ended up with half-centuries.
On the contrary, only KL Rahul managed a fifty in the match with India abjectly surrendering to the Australian bowlers in both the innings getting all-out on 105 and 107 respectively. The Indian batsmen never looked comfortable while dealing with Keefe and even Nathan Lyon.
Ok fine, the wicket in Pune will come under the scanner, yet we have seen worse wickets over the years. Kohli quite justifiably put the blame on his batsmen and never looked for any pretext to justify his team’s abysmal performance in the first Test. That’s like a true leader and one hopes he sticks to it, irrespective of the ICC ruling.