Bengaluru pitch rated 'below average' by ICC match referee
The pitch at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, which hosted the second Test between Australia and India last week, has been given a "below average" rating by the ICC match referee, Chris Broad. Earlier, Broad had rated the pitch for the Pune Test, the first of the series "poor".
While the outfield in Bengaluru was rated as "very good", it is understood that one of the main factors in Broad's appraisal of the pitch was the variable bounce. In contrast to the series opener in Pune, which ended within three days, the second Test was low-scoring thriller that went into the final session of the fourth day. India finally prevailed on fourth afternoon, and levelled the four-match series 1-1 after Australia lost their last six wickets for 11.
A below-average rating from a match referee is common and carries no penalty or fine. Of the six options available for the match referee to evaluate a pitch, a below-average rating ranks ahead of "poor" and "unfit".
A rough patch outside the right-hand batsmen's off stump offered turn and bounce to Nathan Lyon, who took eight wickets on the first day. Second day onwards, the fast bowlers got quite a few balls to stay low and shoot through the ground. Virat Kohli, Mitchell Marsh, Steven Smith and R Ashwin fell to grubbers.
Pune was the second Indian pitch to be rated poor in two seasons, after India beat South Africa in Nagpur in three days in 2015-16. Since the ICC began its pitch and outfield monitoring process in 2006, four of the seven Full-Member pitches rated poor or unfit have belonged to India.
The third Test of the series will be played in Ranchi from March 16. Like Pune, Ranchi will be making its Test debut, and the pitch there has been a subject of speculation.
Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo