#NewsBytesExplainer: Why the Motera wicket shouldn't be rated poor
Team India made a stunning comeback in the four-match Test series by winning the third Test against England. The Day/Night encounter was concluded in less than two complete days as the hosts claimed a 10-wicket victory. Notably, the rapid conclusion of pink-ball Test has initiated a debate regarding the quality of wicket at the newly-constructed Narendra Modi Stadium. Let us analyze the same.
The Test was wrapped up inside two days
Let us have a look at how the Test panned out. Batting first, England managed only 112 on Day 1. Although India looked in commanding position, a five-for by Joe Root ended their innings on 145. Soon after, the visitors perished on 81 before India chased the 49-run target. The match was wrapped up 98 minutes before the close of play on Day 2.
The shortest completed Test since 1935
The first Test at the new Motera Stadium (Narendra Modi stadium) will be remembered as the shortest one ever played in India. Overall, this was also the shortest completed Test since 1935. The wickets section of fast bowlers were dried up as they took only two of the 30 wickets in the match. This compelled the cricket experts to criticize the surface.
Mixed reactions on the Motera wicket
The nature of Motera track drew mixed reactions. In the post-match presentation, Indian captain Virat Kohli described it as "very good pitch to bat on". He instead targeted the batsmen from both sides for lack of intent. However, former England captains Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook differed with his opinion. They felt that Kohli was being "protective" of the groundsmen.
The shot-selection of batsmen was under the scanner
Did the Motera track make life difficult for the batsmen? Yes, it certainly did! However, this was only due to their shot-selection while playing spin. On this wicket, the ball was not changing its trajectory after pitching, repeatedly. Hence, the batsmen were found playing the wrong line. Interestingly, nearly 21 out of the 30 wickets fell to the straighter delivery from the spinners.
The dynamics of pink ball made the difference
Another aspect to this argument is the presence of pink ball. Throughout the match, the pink ball coupled with lacquer and hard seam skidded a lot for spinners. This dragged the batsmen on backfoot, while a lot of them were beaten anticipating the turn. Clearly, uneven bounce and sharp turn were nowhere in the picture as the deliveries remained straighter, more often than not.
An interesting analysis by Cricket Analyst Sarang Bhalerao
Test matches have been played in far more testing conditions
A year ago, India were cleaned up 2-0 in the two-match Test series by NZ. The series was dominated by pacers as Ravichandran Ashwin was the only spinner among the top ten wicket-takers. Even England's seaming conditions are celebrated across the globe. In fact, the wickets in Australia and South Africa (famous for producing cracks on the final two days) are deemed competitive.
Will India lose WTC points?
In case the Ahmedabad pitch is rated poor by the ICC, the ground will be docked three demerit points. However, India won't lose any points on the World Test Championship table. As per the WTC playing conditions, the home team is penalized if the pitch or outfield is rated unfit. At the moment, India are in race for a spot in the WTC final.