On Wednesday morning, an avalanche of outrage erupted when the third Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series between India and Australia began in Indore. Former cricketers such as Matthew Hayden, Mark Waugh, and Michael Clark expressed their displeasure at the Holkar Stadium pitch, with the former highlighting the 4.8 degrees of turn as 14 wickets fell on Day 1 and 16 on the second day, with neither side managing more than 200 runs in an innings.
India skipper Rohit Sharma silenced the talk around the Indian pitch with a blistering reply moments after the hosts suffered a nine-wicket loss in the third Test.
India's first innings lasted just over a session on the opening day, as they were bowled out for 109 runs. Despite sneaking a lead, Australia lost four wickets at the close of Day 1. On the second morning, they lost their final six wickets in just 22.3 overs, before India were dramatically dismissed for 163 at the close of Day 2.
Amid the mounting criticism, India's captain Rohit Sharma was asked to evaluate the Indore pitch after another three-day finish to a Test match. He responded with a blistering retort, asserting that none of the former cricketers had ever played on pitches like this. He further elucidated that it was a collective decision from the Indian team to play on such surfaces, despite being aware of the difficulties it posed. He opined that had the team not achieved success, there would have been an internal review.
“Former cricketers did not play on pitches like this. So I don't know. Like I said, this is the kind of pitch we wanted to play in and this is our strength. When you play in home, you want to play to your strength and not worry about what people outside are speaking about. And had we not gotten results, we would have thought otherwise,” Rohit said at the press conference.
Rohit expressed his dissatisfaction with the incessant chatter about pitches after every match, instead expressing his admiration for Nathan Lyon, who earned the Player of the Match award with 13 wickets, as well as the impressive performances of Cheteshwar Pujara and Usman Khawaja in the Indore Test.
“This pitch talk is getting too much. Every time we play in India, the focus is only on pitch. Why are people not asking me about Nathan Lyon and how well he bowled? Or, how well Pujara batted in the second innings? Or, how well Usman Khawaja played? Those are the things I can give you a details on, but not on pitch because it is absolutely not necessary,” he said.
India had set a target of 76 runs, a feat that had never been defended in the fourth innings of a Test match before. Consequently, they were aware that they were attempting to make history and secure their place in the World Test Championship (WTC) final. This was an unprecedented challenge, but one that they were determined to overcome.
With their triumphant victory, the Australians have secured their spot in the World Test Championship Final, slated for June. India, however, have much to ponder before the fourth Test in Ahmedabad, and will be desperate to guarantee their own qualification for the Final, rather than relying on other teams' results.
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