Cricket: Indian curator insists on a miscommunication over Ranchi pitch claims

The test series between India and Australia has so far proven spiteful. Photo / AP
The test series between India and Australia has so far proven spiteful. Photo / AP

When an insider at Ranchi revealed Indian captain Virat Kohli would have a number pitches to choose from for the third Test, Australia went into meltdown.

The news broke on Friday when chief curator SB Singh told the media JSCA International Stadium had prepared three separate tracks for the Indian team.

"Each of them will behave differently. The team will choose the strip two days before the match," Singh said, assuring fans that the track will hold up much better than the "poor" deck in Pune and the unpredictable minefield seen in Bangalore last week.

"The pitch will suit both the batsmen and bowlers and will definitely last five days."

There is nothing in the ICC laws that appears to cover a captain's choice for pitch preparation, however it could be perceived as going against the spirit of the game.

The obvious advantage granted to the home side stirred up a storm, but Singh insists the "team" given the opportunity to select the playing track is not the one taking the field next week.

"It's true that we have prepared three pitches - No.4, 5 and 7 - for the match," he said in an interview with Times of India. "But I have never said anything about Kohli being allowed to have his say on the pitch for the match."

The team Singh was referring to was the team of officials arriving to inspect the stadium before the match later this week.

"SB Singh is right," said JSCA secretary Debashis Chakraborty. "We have nine pitches here at the stadium and of which three have been prepared for this Test as is the norm with any other association hosting a Test match.

"Once the officials come here they will choose which pitch to play on. All the three pitches on offer have been used this season."

The second Test in Bangalore was marred by controversy after Virat Kohli accused the Australians of "cheating" after skipper Steve Smith consulted with the dressing room to see if he should review a decision.

Kohli, who yelled expletives at Aussie batsmen throughout the match, was slammed by legends of the game with former Australian star Ian Healy admitting he'd "lost respect" for the 28-year-old firebrand.

"I'd be pretty upset if one of our players or staff did that," Warner admitted on the Kohli controversy. "There's going to be a lot of niggles here and there around certain things, and I think just a few people got out of hand.

"Everyone has reined it back in again and ... hopefully, both teams will come out and play within the spirit of cricket."

In terms of fighting against the tirade of sledges from the fiery home side, the Aussie vice-captain says a gentle approach is needed.

"They came out and said they don't sledge - I think it's just banter," Warner quipped. "I don't need to respond. I'll just sit back and watch and just laugh ... you don't take much notice of it.

"Everyone's talking ... when you have four or five men around the bat constantly, you'll hear some kind of stuff. Half the time, I don't even understand."

Australia faces a fresh new struggle going into the third Test after strike bowler Mitchell Starc was sent home with stress fractures in his foot. His absence from the side gives youngster Pat Cummins, who debuted in the Baggy Green at 18 years of age, an opportunity to make an impression on selectors looking for a third paceman to tackle England in the Ashes later in the year.

Cummins was named player of the match in his test debut against South Africa at the Wanderers in November 2011, claiming match figures of 7-117. But he has not played a test since due to stress fractures in his back.

Cummins returned to Sheffield Shield domestic cricket for the first time since March 2011 this week, when he played for New South Wales in its win over South Australia. He bowled with pace and accuracy to take 8-104 and also contributed 42 with the bat.

The four-test series in India is level at 1-1 ahead of the start of the third test next Thursday at Ranchi.

- news.com.au

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