One more spin-friendly pitch in the Test series awaits the competing teams — India and South Africa — as they lock horns at Jamtha, on the outskirts of Nagpur in the third match of the Freedom Series from Wednesday.
The question of pitch seems to have started irritating India captain Virat Kohli, at least that’s the impression he gave on the eve of the match, despite his team being 1-0 ahead in the four-Test series.
“That wicket debate is out of my understanding. I don’t know why there is so much [hue and] cry about the wickets in India. We absolutely have no problems in playing on this sort of a wicket. If both teams don’t agree on playing on a particular wicket, then it is not suited for a game of cricket. But we have no problems,” he said.
Kohli insisted that his team members do not discuss the condition of pitches.
“We haven’t had any sort of talk about the track. Whoever wants to talk about the track is free to talk about it. As I said, we will decide a combination according to how the wicket will play over a span of five days and not how it looks for the first time,” said Kohli.
The pitch is dry and is expected to assist spinners. It is perhaps natural too, as the last time India and South Africa played in Nagpur, in 2010, the visitors thrashed India to pulp.
Kohli said the playing XI wasn’t finalised as yet.
“In a Test side, according to the conditions, I feel you should have a couple of all-rounders, one a spinning all-rounder and one a seaming all-rounder. It’s just that one slot which brings balance to the team and must be decided according to the conditions we are playing in. Other than that anything could be a possibility,” he said.
“Assessing the nature of the wicket, we have got to make a few changes. Obviously, I won’t disclose it here. We possibly might make a few changes according to the conditions.”
South Africa captain Hashim Amla said it was time his team put in the performances befitting a No.1 ranked side.
“We haven’t played our best Test cricket,” Amla told reporters. “If you look back to Mohali, I’d say we were in the game for three innings of the four. If India got bowled out for 200 and us for 187 it’s a fair reflection that the game was well poised up until the last day, which we didn’t do too well in.”
“On the first day of the last Test we didn’t bat well at all so we haven’t put in free-flowing Test cricket performances that we are used to. It will be great for a start if in Nagpur we can get on to the field and put in the performances that the South African team is used to.”
Amla said it a now-or-never situation for his team.
“We are 1-0 down so it is certainly a must-win match for us to stay in the series. It does allow us to play with risk but that is the mentality that we came here with; we came here to win the series. In the first match we had five frontline bowlers and for me that’s an attacking option; we need to take 20 wickets to win the Test match,” he said.