After Australia stand-in captain Steve Smith won the toss and opted to bat, India skipper Rohit Sharma was left with no choice but to hope that the surface held its own as India are the team that will bat last on the Ahmedabad pitch.
After three 3-day finishes, the action shifts to the fourth and final Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2023, to played at the world’s largest Narendra Modi Stadium. As expected, the debate surrounding the pitch hasn’t extinguished even slightly. There is as much talk about the Motera pitch as the previous three matches, and despite India captain Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid’s repeated attempts at playing down the noise around it, that is the first question on everyone’s lips ahead of the series decider.
On the eve of the match, Australia’s stand-in captain Steve Smith’s statements came as a positive sign as he called it ‘probably the best-looking batting pitch’ of the series, and rightly so. The surface looks a lot less dry, with a tinge of green, enough to hold it for a longer duration of time. However, the expressions on Rohit’s face told the story when he looked at the pitch during toss. After Smith won the toss and opted to bat, Rohit was left with no choice but to hope that the surface held its own as India will be batting last.
“Not the surface that we saw in the first three Test matches. It looks like a very good pitch. I don’t know when it’s going to start turning but yeah, looks good. Obviously, I hope it stays this way all five days,” Rohit said with a nervy laugh on his face,” Rohit said as he announced just one change in India’s Playing XI – Mohammed Shami replacing Mohammed Siraj.
This is not the first time Rohit expressed his thoughts on the India vs Australia Tests not lasting the entirely of five days. After they lost the third Test in Indore, Rohit was asked about the matches finishing early, to which he had a rather interesting reply. Rohit had said that if the games aren’t heading into the fifth day, it is because the players lack skills to play on such surfaces. Just a day later, the Indore pitch was given a poor rating by the ICC.
“What can I say about that. People have to play well for the game to last for 5 days. Games are not lasting for 5 days even outside India. Yesterday in South Africa, the game got over within 3 days… Australia as well in the first Test match. So it’s about skills… people have to adapt with skills. If the pitches are helping the bowlers, batters need to try and test their skills. It is not about always making sure that we are playing on flat pitches and then the results don’t come,” Rohit had said.
As per Matthew Hayden, who presented the pitch report, the Ahmedabad pitch in nothing like the one that witnessed a two-day finish between India and England in 2021. “It looks well rolled, there is an even covering of grass and there are a few dry patches on the surface. Looks slightly damp as it’s early in the morning. The spinners have loved to operate in these conditions. The surface is going to break up as the game progresses. Plenty of wickets in it for the spinners, but it will play better than the previous pitches used in the series,” he said.