Australia's captain Steve Smith in action in Indore
Ahmedabad (India) (AFP) - Stand-in skipper Steve Smith said Wednesday that Australia still did not know which pitch the crunch final Test against India will be played on, less than 24 hours before the match in Ahmedabad.
Two tracks have been prepared at the world’s biggest cricket stadium for the match beginning Thursday, when Australia will attempt to square the series 2-2.
The 33-year-old Smith, standing in as captain in place of Pat Cummins, said he could not recall ever having been in this situation so close to the start of a Test.
“There might have been a couple prepared maybe a bit longer out than two days, but I can’t remember two days out not knowing which wicket we are on,” he said.
Smith said the groundsman told him Tuesday there was a 60 percent chance of playing on the pitch with black soil, which would likely have low bounce and be more suited to spinners.
The other surface at the 132,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium is redder, so could be friendlier to batters.
India coach Rahul Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma each made lengthy inspections of the pitch with black soil, local media said.
India have long been accused of preparing pitches to favour their spinners. The International Cricket Council ruled that the surface in the third Test in Indore – won by Australia – was “poor”.
“It’s kind of mind-boggling to me when we look at these surfaces and we see what we’ve had – 11 innings in six days or something like that,” Smith said.
“Spinners have taken the bulk of the wickets and you see how difficult it is to play the spin,” he said.
- Three spinners -
The tourists switched to a spin-heavy team selection from the second Test in New Delhi and handed India a nine-wicket loss in Indore in just over two days.
Smith strongly hinted that Australia would play the spin trio of Nathan Lyon, Matthew Kuhnemann and Todd Murphy again, praising the “variation” that each has been able to produce.
Lyon, an off-spinner, took eight wickets to dismiss India for 163 in their second innings on a pitch that turned from day one in the third Test.
Newcomer Murphy has been economical and got Virat Kohli out three times.
”(We have) had faith in what we’re trying to do and it’s good that we are able to show that we can play with three spinners and win,” Smith said.
“They are all different and all have good knowledge of the game (and a) good understanding of what they are trying to do. It’s been great to be able to play spinners and show that we can do it effectively.”
Victory in the third Test was only Australia’s second in India since 2004 and Smith believes another to level the series would be an ideal finish.
“For any touring team to come here and win two Test matches will be a huge achievement,” said Smith.
“Unfortunately we weren’t able to do it earlier in the series to give ourselves a chance to win.”