Discussions over pitch are quite normal in the lead-up to an important Test match. But at times, it can go overboard. In the pre-match conference on the eve of the second and final Test match against Bangladesh, it treaded dangerously on those lines. India batting coach Vikram Rathour faced at least six questions about the pitch set to be offered in Mirpur and quite understandably, his answers became increasingly stoic as the conference progressed.
India are leading the two-match Test series 1-0 and the only chance for Bangladesh to avoid a series loss is to win the next Test starting Thursday. India too would long for a result-oriented pitch as there are World Test Championship points at stake and they need to win a majority of their remaining matches to qualify for the finals.
But is the Indian camp unhappy with the 22 yards being offered to them for the series finale? A local reporter informed that India head coach Rahul Dravid went to the curator’s room to have a discussion after taking a look at the pitch. When asked whether India were ‘unhappy’ with the pitch, India batting coach Rathour seemed puzzled.
“You need to go and ask Mr Dravid and the curator. I don’t know what conversations happened. Whatever wicket we get we are fine with it. There are absolutely no issues from our side,” he said on Wednesday. “We still haven’t really looked at the surface. It’s kind of covered with a lot of dead grass. How will it play? It’s difficult. We need to put as many runs as possible, I can’t put a number to it. If we get to bat first, we will look to put up a big score.”
Mirpur traditionally offers more for the bowlers and the Indian camp knows it. But they don’t have any specific plans to counter the trial by spin from the hosts. “We are expecting it to be a supporting wicket, whichever way it goes, we want the Test match to be decided. Both the teams are looking forward to having a good Test match. It’s definitely much better now. It used to be a pretty slow and low wicket. There used to be low-scoring games but it’s much better now. “Even in ODIs, we saw it had more help for bowlers. It had more pace. I’m sure this game will get decided,” he said.
When asked about the Indian batters’ preparations to play the opposition spinners, Rahtour said it’s good practice for the upcoming four-match Test series at home against Australia.
“When you play in the subcontinent, you expect the pitches to turn. After this we are playing an important series against Australia and we are expecting there will be some wickets which will turn. This is good practice for our batters. We are not discussing too much tactically. It will all depend on what kind of bounce the pitch has on offer. In the previous wicket we played on, the bounce was slightly lower. We are expecting this one to maybe have more bounce and a bit more turn. We’ll see how it goes and we’ll look to play according to the conditions,” he said.
India were clearly the better side in the first Test match winning it by 188 runs but with Taskin Ahmed fit and Ebadot Hossain injured there is a change likely to the Bangladesh XI.
“Bangladesh are a decent bowling unit. We played a really good Test match the last time around. We are pretty confident with the way the batters are batting at the moment,” Rathour said.