Australia vs India: Pitch preparation exposed for first Test in Nagpur exposed, photos, cricket news

Australia will have to overcome some blatant pitch doctoring to have any chance of winning the first Test against India, which starts on Thursday.

Images of the pitch in Nagpur have sparked a theory that the Indian curators are conspiring against Australia left-handed heavy batting line-up.

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Two days out from the start of the first Test, both the Australian and Indian teams closely inspected the pitch, which appears to have been prepared to wreak havoc on the tourists.

Cricket journalist Bharat Sundaresan posted photos that show the centre of the pitch has been watered and rolled, but the areas on a good length outside a left-handed batter’s off stump have been left to dry in the heat.

Five members of Australia’s likely top seven — Usman Khawaja, David Warner, Travis Head, Matthew Renshaw, and Alex Carey — bat left handed.

The state of the pitch could see right-handed Peter Handscomb enter the frame to be picked to bat at No. 6 over Renshaw.

The BCCI now sends official curators to oversee the preparation of wickets.

All signs point to utter carnage when play gets underway in Nagpur, where batting first will likely be a major advantage.

Nagpur has been a spinner’s paradise in recent times, with Gujurat collapsing to be all out for just 54 against Vidarbha in India’s Ranji Trophy competition in at the same venue just last month.

News Corp cricket writer Robert Craddock believes while the hosts have every right to prepare a pitch to suit India, this instance is blatant “pitch doctoring”.

“The classic saying about pitches is, ‘Oh, it’s the same for everyone’,” Craddock said on SEN.

“When the Gabba pitch had too much grass left on it, people were saying, ‘Yes, it was not a great wicket, but it was the same everyone’.

“But you can’t say that about this pitch, Australia has six left-handers in their top eight, so if you start multi-preparing parts of the deck that’s straight-up pitch doctoring, it’s poor.

“90 per cent of me feels frustrated about it, but the other 10 per cent is it’s a narrative for the series, it’s just building up beautifully, isn’t it?

“It’s a bit of old-fashioned hijinks, Test cricket needs these plots and the drama side of me enjoys it.”

Former Australian all-rounder Simon O’Donnell said: “The ICC should step in and do something about it, if they think it’s not right.

“If they think the pitch is not right, there’ll be an ICC referee at the game and the ICC will be watching this game.

“But there’s so many when it comes to India, we have all of these discussions, and nothing seems to happen.

“If they really think there’s a pitch here that doesn’t play to the normal standards of Test cricket and the characteristics of this ground, then the ICC need to do something.”

Jason Gillespie added: “I think the Indian curators are looking at a way for India to have an advantage,” Jason Gillespie told SEN WA Breakfast.

“They potentially think spin will play a huge role and that for the best chance to beat Australia will be to play to their strength.

Steve Smith had a good look at the pitch and predicted it could be a nightmare for left-handers.

“It’s pretty dry,” he said.

“Particularly one end. I think it will take a bit of spin, particularly the left arm spinners spinning it back in to our left handers.

“There’s a section there that is quite dry.

“I can’t get a good gauge on it, I’m not sure, but I don’t think there will be a heap of bounce in the wicket for the seamers, it will be quite skiddy and maybe a bit of up and down movement as the game goes on.

“The cracks felt quite loose.”

India’s KL Rahul said his side was preparing to bat on spinning pitches.

“The things that we’ve worked on obviously is playing spin, we know how pitches are going to be here in India and what to expect,” he said.

“Keeping that in mind, we’ve practised playing spin. Each person has their individual plans. “Everybody wants to play a certain way, everyone has their own set way which has been discussed with the coaches.

“It is a must win series, with India Australia it always is. It isn’t any different to any Border Gavaskar series we’ve played, yes we do realise there is a Test Championship final that we all want to play in, but we realise we have to not think too far ahead.”

With Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc ruled out of the first Test and all-rounder Cameron Green still under an injury cloud, the make-up of Australia’s bowling attack is yet to be decided.

Captain Pat Cummins will likely be joined in the attack by Scott Boland, with Nathan Lyon set to be partnered by Ashton Agar for spinning duties.

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