The Pune pitch was one side of an extreme pitch coin, which backfired on India spectacularly. And while they, eventually, found the right mantra to be able to get on top of this Australia side – an extra session in Ranchi and the series would have been 2-1 in their favour – what Virat Kohli and Anil Kumble cannot afford is for the Dharamsala wicket to go to the other extreme.
If the noises being made by the pitch curator at Dharamsala are to be believed, then we are in for a fast, bouncy track which will help the pace bowlers and is unlikely to break down enough for the spinners to come into play.
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Imagine, a deciding Test match in India being played on a wicket that might suit the opponent's better?
That would be a travesty, and then some.
After triumphing emphatically over New Zealand, England and then Bangladesh, India need this final series of their long home season to end in victory. They deserve that, such has been the quality of their play.
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Of course, nobody is asking for a win to be handed to them on a platter, but nothing can be more irritating for a home side than when somebody from one of their own home grounds talk in the "this is the condition of the pitch, it has always been like this, it won't be altered," tone.
Never an issue outside India
For some weird reason, home advantage and talk about pitches being "doctored" only comes into the conversation when India are playing at home.
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A greener than the rest of the ground pitch at Lord's? Hey, that's perfectly fine.
A track that sees a Test match end inside three days in Adelaide? Yup, the pink ball's fault.
Wickets that have turned this India vs Australia Test series into one of the most exciting ones in recent times and made Test matches, even for the passing fan fun? Nope, the pitches are being "doctored," it's a travesty! Let's give a poor and below average rating, shall we, even if one of those Tests were one of the best ones in recent memory.
Low and slow
No doubt, if the eventual pitch conditions end up being of the low, slow and dry variety when matchday comes on Saturday in Dharamsala, the Australian media bandwagon, ready to get those pens out (Ok, ok, laptop keyboard) for the slightest "transgression", will cry foul again.
Kohli hasn't cared one hoot so far and he shouldn't either. India need to go to the curator in Dharamsala and make it clear that this isn't about sticking to principles or any of such high and mighty words, this is about winning an extremely important Test series.
Home advantage is pointless if you do not take advantage of that, well, advantage.
Nobody is asking for the Dharamsala pitch to be a rank turner like the one in Pune – if that is the case, the toss becomes way too important, and Australia have quality spinners to exploit helpful conditions. All India will ask for is an Indian pitch – one that is true for batting on the first three days and then breaks up enough for the spinners to come into play, with some variable bounce making the fast bowlers dangerous as well.
Beat India at their own game
If Australia end up beating India at their own game, then fair enough – doff your hat in acknowledgement and appreciate what would have been a truly remarkable performance.
Indeed, Australia have done spectacularly well already to keep this four-match Test series tied up at 1-1. The manner in which they saved the Ranchi Test match was impressive and India know they are in for a ridiculously-difficult contest, irrespective of the conditions in Dharamsala.
But, what India cannot do is tilt the balance in Australia's favour by giving them a pitch with grass, carry, pace and bounce. Yes, the home side might also have really good fast bowlers who can exploit those conditions as well, but India are at their best when they play on low and slow wickets, and as the Ranchi Test, and even the Bengaluru one, showed, such Test matches can create griping contests.
So, leave the pace, bounce, conventional swing, grass and whatnot for Test matches in England, Australia and South Africa. Tests in India are about batting attrition, guile, spin and dealing with a wearing pitch, and so it should be in Dharamsala as well.