Smith surprised by Ranchi pitch: I’ve never seen a wicket that’s looked quite as dark

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Smith surprised by Ranchi pitch: I’ve never seen a wicket that’s looked quite as dark

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SportsCafe Desk

03/15/2017

Steve Smith is surprised to see the pitch to be used for the third Test between India and Australia in Ranchi and said that he hasn't seen a dark wicket like that ever before. The Aussie skipper has also added that he doesn't know what to expect from the wicket.

Not for the first time in the series, Steve Smith was forced to doubt his own assessment of the pitch, ahead of the third Test between India and Australia to be played at the JSCA international stadium in Ranchi, starting tomorrow.

Smith said that he hadn’t seen a pitch quite like the one in Ranchi owing to its peculiar character, just as he had said about the pitch used for the first Test in Pune, which Australia won by a huge margin of 333 runs.  

Moreover, while the pitch in Pune was marked as ‘poor’ by match referee Chris Broad, the one used for the second Test in Bengaluru was marked as ‘below average’. Now the pitch to be used for the third Test in Ranchi has already come under scrutiny. More importantly, no one is quite sure of what to expect from the pitch in Ranchi, given that the JSCA stadium is hosting its first Test.

Smith was quoted as saying, "I’ve never seen a wicket that’s looked quite as dark as that one is. It looks like there’s mud sort of rolled together. It looks a bit different but having said that both teams have to play on it. It’s twenty-two yards and we’ve played on some difficult wickets in the first two games and we’ve played some pretty good cricket, so we’re confident that we can play with whatever this wicket does."

Regardless of how the pitch plays out, one can be assured of the fact that boundaries are certain to flow in the third Test, owing to the pace and hardness of the outfield that is not the biggest in the country. Further, as has been the case in the series so far, the spinners are expected to have a large say in the final outcome of the match. This is even more, the case given that the weather is unlikely to play spoilsport in the game, but once again, the match is unlikely to go the distance, owing to the state of the pitch.

And if things do turn out that way, Smith feels that it might work in favor of his team. "So if it's a game of spin versus batters, and the quicks aren't in there quite as much – I certainly think it brings us to an even playing field." Smith wasn’t fazed by the suggestion that the pitch might have been curated to nullify the presence of Australia’s fastest bowler Pat Cummins, who is almost certain to replace the injured Mitchell Starc.

The Australian skipper, though, still has to choose between Glenn Maxwell and Marcus  Stoinis, who would be making his debut, as a replacement for Mitchell Marsh. Moreover, given that Cummins has played only one match, prior to his recall to the Test side, Smith is still confident in his ability to deliver. "I think it’s nice to have that pace option as well. I think he’s got some good variations watching him bowl yesterday. He bowled these cutters on the wicket and they were actually ragging (spinning) and he’s got some good skills there as well. The extra pace is always nice on there. I don’t think there will be a great deal of bounce, I think it will shoot quite low."

Having said all of this, Smith is still not cent percent sure about his assessment of the wicket, he concluded by saying “But I’m actually not sure how it’s going to play, it’s hard to get a gauge on this one. I daresay there won’t be much bounce but I’ve been wrong with wickets before. We’ve been talking here in almost AFL style terms. We’re at half-time now in the series going into the premiership quarter in the next game."

Test Squads

India : (for third and fourth Tests): Virat Kohli (c), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Karun Nair, Jayant Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Abhinav Mukund.

Australia: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Stephen O'Keefe, Matthew Renshaw, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade

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