Eyebrows have been raised ahead of the first Test in Nagpur after Indian curators reportedly adopted a unique strategy in preparing the pitch just two days before the first ball.
According to reporters on the ground, only the centre of the Nagpur wicket was watered and rolled while the area where bowlers will target left-handers was left bone dry.
This was the same at either end of the wicket in what appeared to be a deliberate ploy to make life difficult for left-handers, who for Australia include David Warner, Usman Khawaja and Travis Head.
Watch Australia’s Tour of India. Every Test & ODI live & ad-break free during play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
Cricbuzz writer Bharat Sundaresan spotted the preparations and posted pictures to Twitter, clearly showing the pitch being more lush through the middle and on a good length for right-handers, but looking dry on the other side.
“Interesting treatment of the pitch in Nagpur,” he wrote, before confirming his observations.
“The groundstaff watered the entire centre of the surface & only the length areas outside the left-hander’s leg stump & then rolled only the centre, stopping short every time they got to the good length areas at both ends.”
‘VERY UNLIKELY’: Green the latest Aussie loss as India delivers four-spinner ‘prepare turners’ warning
3-1 AUSTRALIA? Shock prediction for India tour as Smith tipped to shine: Ultimate Guide
‘OUTSIDE CANDIDATES’: Finch names his four preferred replacements as Australian captain
Finch goes bonkers for record T20 score | 04:26
The Australians were already concerned about the pitch, even before the unique strategies were employed later in the day.
Speaking of the wicket, Steve Smith said: “It’s pretty dry. Particularly one end. I think it will take a bit of spin, particularly the left arm spinners spinning it back in to our left handers.
“I can’t get a good gauge on it, I’m not sure, but I don’t think there will be a heap of bounce in the wicket for the seamers, it will be quite skiddy and maybe a bit of up and down movement as the game goes on.
“The cracks felt quite loose.”
According to those who saw the preparations, those cracks didn’t receive any water while most of the rest of the pitch did.
BJ backs Swepson for first India Test | 07:56
David Warner was reportedly seen during the day getting down on his knees to inspect the area outside what will be his off-stump, as he prepares to face Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, among other India spin options.
Warner will be the first to get a taste of how the pitch plays, but Australia’s XI is likely to be left-hander heavy with Khawaja and Head joined by Alex Carey and potentially Matthew Renshaw.
The pitch could therefore play into the hands of the right-handed Peter Handscomb, who is among Australia’s better players of spin and in strong form domestically.
He’s thought to be in contention with Renshaw for a spot in Australia’s XI at No.6 after Cameron Green was all-but ruled out of the first Test.
May 29, 2023, 11:17PM ISTSource: ANICricket enthusiasts thronged to Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on May 29 to witness the nail-biting match between Chenna
Virat Kohli will be a key figure for India's World Test Championship ambitions (Photo by Robert ... [+] Cianflone/Getty Images)Getty Images Cricket's World Test
When India lifted the title in the inaugural U-19 Women’s World Cup in South Africa in January, it was celebrated with great joy as it was the first ICC tr
India’s JioCinema broke the global record for the most concurrent views to a live streamed event on Monday, beating a milestone set