Analysing the three recent Tests when rank turners were dished out in India, it is clear that the home team failed to put up big scores on the board, which was almost guaranteed when Indian teams of yesteryear played on such tracks. The immediate goal of winning the Test was achieved, but only because the South Africans and New Zealanders proved even more inept at countering the conditions.
India v SA 1st Test, Mohali, November 5-7, 2015: (Toss: India) India 201 & 200 beat South Africa 184 & 109 by 108 runs
India v SA 3rd Test, Nagpur, November 25-27, 2015: (Toss: India) India 215 & 173 beat South Africa 79 & 185 by 124 runs
India v NZ 1st Test, Kanpur, September 22-26, 2016: (Toss: India) India 318 & 377/5 declared beat New Zealand 262 & 236 by 197 runs
Kohli, Rahane struggle
Virat Kohli, the captain, may prefer such surfaces but Virat Kohli, the batsman, has not found the going easy in the aforementioned Tests. In his six innings, he managed scores of 1, 29, 22, 16, 9 and 18 – an aggregate of 95 at an underwhelming average of 15.83. The other dependable batsman in the Indian line-up, Ajinkya Rahane, has hardly done any better. His scores read 15, 2, 13, 9, 18 and 40 — for a total of 97 and average of 16.16.
Opening, a saving grace
Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara, who bat in the top three, have done better. Vijay’s sequence reads 75, 47, 40, 5, 65 and 76 — 308 runs at 51.33. Pujara has scored 31, 77, 21, 31, 62 and 78 — 300 at 50.
Short time, long handle
Of the six innings in question, only once did India bat more than 100 overs — in the second innings against New Zealand in Kanpur when they lost just five wickets in setting up a declaration. The rank turners do not put a premium on a batsman’s ability to bat for a day and a half. One is always on the lookout for quick runs thinking an unplayable delivery could be round the corner.
It explains why Ravindra Jadeja has scores of 38, 8, 34, 5, 42 and 50 not out (177 runs at 35.4) using the long handle to good effect. In low-scoring matches, such contributions can be priceless.