After so much of talks and discussions, the first Test between India and Australia got underway at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur on Thursday. Australia captain Pat Cummins won the toss and decided to bat first. Indian bowlers, meanwhile, had a blast very early in the innings as Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami sent back Australia’s openers within the first three overs.
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Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith did trouble the Indians for a bit as the pair added 82 runs for the third wicket. However, both batters found themselves helpless against two brilliant deliveries from Ravindra Jadeja. After Smith and Labuschagne, Alex Carey and Peter Handscomb tried to counterpunch and succeeded to some extent. However, while Carey fell prey to Ashwin, Handscomb had no answers for Jadeja.
Eventually, Australia got bowled out for 177 as Jadeja took a fifer and Ashwin a 3-fer. By the looks of the scorecard, the Nagpur pitch looked like a tough one to bat on. However, when India came on to bat, the story was different altogether. India captain Rohit Sharma raced to a half-century in just 66 balls proving all the talks against the pitch wrong.
It was then when former India head coach Ravi Shastri took a dig at the Nagpur pitch critics. Shastri sounded serious when he went searching for those faces who were making “a lot of noise” about the pitch. “People were making so much noise about the pitch yesterday, what happened today?" asked Shastri on-air.
Notably, ahead of the start of the game, several former Australia cricketers accused India of doctoring the Nagpur pitch as images of the VCA pitch went viral on social media. Senior cricket expert Robert Craddock had said on SEN’s podcast, “It’s a multi-toned pitch. The classic saying about pitches is, ‘Oh, it’s the same for everyone”.
“When the Gabba pitch too much grass was 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,” he had said.