Australia can still beat India in Boxing Day Test as pitch deteriorates, says Aaron Finch
Aaron Finch survived a fraught, six-over spell before the end of play on day two. (AAP: Julian Smith)
Australian opener Aaron Finch says that every result is still on the table, and that the placid pitch of the opening two days may just spring into life as the Boxing Day Test against India progresses.
Following a dire day one supposedly suffocated any prospect of a result, even Mary Shelly would have had difficulty convincing the public that this green-tinged monster could burst into life.
But with balls increasingly staying low or rearing up to rap the knuckles of unassuming batsmen, this pitch could yet take a few by surprise.
Finch survived a fraught, six-over spell just before the close of play to end the day on 3 runs from 23 balls, alongside fellow opener Marcus Harris (5 from 13), during which the ball began to behave slightly erratically, giving hope to the Indian bowlers.
It is that erratic bounce that Finch believes makes this a wicket on which every result is still possible.
“After two days, it’s tough to say,” Finch said when asked about the nature of the pitch.
“But I think as you get into the third, fourth and fifth day it will start to tell a different story.
“I think that this wicket is deteriorating a lot more than probably what we thought it would.
“We saw tonight, even with the ball it was skidding through, it took off … so it’s still game on.
“If we bat really well and then back up and bowl again and put India under a lot of pressure … absolutely I think all three results are still on the table, 100 per cent — India, Australia and a draw.”
The ball began to behave erratically as Harris and Finch endured a fraught spell. (AAP: Hamish Blair)
Although the pitch is showing clear signs of deterioration, that wasn’t the case early on, and Finch paid credit to his bowlers for putting in the hard yards after a monster 169.4-over, two-day spell in the field in 37 degree temperatures yielded little in the way of wickets, but still restricted India to a relatively low score.
“I think that obviously there wasn’t a lot of bounce or sideways movement for us yesterday and I think today, it was actually pretty similar,” Finch said.
“The work that the guys did, bowling to plans … it would have been easy in that second session today to let the game really get away from us, so the way that they grinded away and rolled up their sleeves and did the hard work was outstanding.”
‘Challenging pitch’ makes scoring hard work
Indian number three batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has had a longer look than anyone at the way this pitch has evolved during this match, spending the best part of four and a half sessions at the crease for a patient 106 runs.
“I had to work really hard to get to a hundred,” Pujara said.
“It is a challenging pitch and as a batsman I felt scoring was very difficult.
“When I was batting yesterday and when I was batting today I felt that there was a difference and I don’t think it is easier to bat now.
“As you saw today, the pitch has already started deteriorating with variable bounce.
“The ball I got out to I couldn’t have done anything about. If it stays low as a batsman, you have very limited options.”
Pujara added that the varying pace of the pitch made it difficult to judge, resulting in him getting rapped on the finger a number of times — fortunately resulting in no physical damage other than to end his obdurate 319 ball-stay at the crease when Cummins follow up skidded onto the stumps.
“I think it’s very difficult to get used to this pace.”
“Sometimes you feel it is on the slower side, but then a ball kicks up.
“I got it on my finger three to four times, and those were not short balls, I think all of those balls were back of a length and hit on my gloves.
“The batsmen is always in doubt when you are playing on such pitches.”
Relatively low total ‘enough’ for India
India reached 443 before declaring at seven wickets down, and despite showing a relative lack of urgency prior to the declaration, Pujara believes that the tourists’ total is enough to win the game.
“Yes I think so,” Pujara said.
“It’s a tough pitch to score runs on.”
“If you look at the first two days, the number of runs that are scored is very less [than normal].
“To score 200 in a day is a tough task.
“I think we have enough runs on the board.”