IND vs ENG: 3rd Test – Was the pitch really the biggest culprit in Ahmedabad?

The pink-ball Test in Ahmedabad was one of the most anticipated events in India. There was a lot of hype around it, especially because the match would also see the first international game at the newly built cricket stadium in Motera, which is now the biggest in the world, in terms of capacity. But, the hype got deflated when the match ended in just two days.

There has been a lot of talk around the Motera pitch, which offered plenty for the spinners and nothing much for the seamers. There have been contrasting opinions on the wickets, with some suggesting that it was too difficult for the batsmen while others said that the pitch might have been poor but surely it was the lack of application from the batsmen.

The Test only lasted for about five sessions and some overs. That makes it the shortest Test match to be played since World War II. However, there are some factors at play if we just keep the pitch aside for a moment. To start off, if we look at the batting display, there was a pattern to all the dismissals.

Looking back at the dismissals

Most of the batsmen who got out weren’t dismissed to balls which were turning square. It was more often the straight ones, which they didn’t pick. Some of them could be called reckless as well. For example, the shot which Dominic Sibley played in the second innings to get out or let’s talk about the way in which Jonny Bairstow couldn’t read the line of the ball. It has to be said that there was some poor batting, especially the way batsmen didn’t trust their defences.

On top of that, one has to understand that the pink ball is slightly different from the red ball. This was the first time when the pink ball was used on a turning track. Years and years of experience had given curators an idea on how to develop a pitch for the red ball, but for the pink ball, the curators didn’t have enough sample size and idea from the experience of previous pink ball Tests. As some of the experts and England skipper Joe Root himself said, the ball was coming off the surface more quickly because of its build and the surface of the ball meeting the pitch.

If we look at the pitch separately, maybe it wasn’t an ideal wicket for a five-day match. But, if we leave some Tests during the recent Border Gavaskar Trophy in Australia, there haven’t been a lot of matches in recent times which have gone as far as the fifth day. Had the batsmen shown a little more confidence in their defences or the match was played with the red ball, then the situation would have been different.

To conclude, it has been more than 90 years of Test cricket being played in India and the wickets have always spun. Motera’s wicket might not have been the best in the world, but it wasn’t the worst wicket either. For now, we can say that demons are not in the pitch but in the minds of the batsmen.