Chennai, Feb 15 (IANS) The pitch at the MA Chidambaram Stadium has sharply divided opinions with some of the former English players and commentators calling it unplayable while others defending it, saying two centuries from India have shown that it wasn’t so.
On Monday, the third day of the second Test, R Ashwin scored his fifth century on Monday using profusely the sweep shot, which Rohit Sharma also used score a century on the first day of the second Test.
Apart from the two centurions, India also saw three half-centuries — Virat Kohli in second innings and Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant in first innings. In contrast, England have not been able to produce a single fifty as Indians have bowled the trajectory and lengths needed on this surface.
After the end of the third day’s play, debutant left-arm spinner Axar Patel pointed out the way bowlers need to bowl on this surface that turned from the first session itself.
“You are getting help from this wicket. So you don’t have to do much. You don’t need to bowl variations. This is what I am doing. So, I try to bowl the ball in the right places and the wicket takes care of the rest,” said Patel after picking two English wickets towards the end of the third day to put India in the driver’s seat.
Patel has included kept in the side specifically for his ability to to bowl accurately. “The way I bowl, I know accuracy is my strength. It helps a lot. You just have to bowl as accurately as possible.”
The England spinners have not just been inaccurate but have also misread the pace to be used on this kind of wicket.
“The way the wicket is behaving, you know that there is spin on offer. The more you push the speed up, the more help you get from the pitch. Accuracy important,” added Patel.
While both Moeen Ali and Jack Leach have given the ball air, the Indian bowlers have kept the pace up.
“If you are leaving it in the air and slowly, then you are not getting any help from the pitch. So you have to hit the pitch hard. So that the batsman finds it difficult to play. The more slowly you are bowling the batsman is also easily adjusting himself, going back. That (quick) speed is important on that wicket,” he added.
While most of wickets taken by England have gone to spinners (15 of India’s 20 wickets to fall have gone to spinners), they have conceded close to 30 for a wicket. In contrast, Indian spinners have conceded as low as 14.2 an over.