As the fourth and final Test between India and South Africa approaches, the talk around the series continues to be dominated by debate over the quality of the pitches. In the third Test in Nagpur last week, India claimed victory by 124 runs to take an unassailable 2-0 lead against the No. 1 ranked Test side in the world. Yet immediately India was forced onto the defensive about the condition of the playing surface.
For the second time in the series, which saw the second Test washed out by rain, a match had been ended inside three days. In four innings in this series, South Africa have scored just 557 runs. Pitches that have provided a lot of turn to aid India’s traditional strength of spin bowling have been criticized, not least by the world governing body International Cricketing Council’s officiating team, which labeled the pitch in Nagpur as “poor.” India captain Virat Kohli, though, has hit back strongly at what he views as a double standard.
“Well there have been three scores of under 50 in Tests in South Africa,” Kohli said on the eve of the fourth Test, reports The Times of India. “I haven't seen any articles about that. Teams have been bundled out less than 100, six times in South Africa. There's not been an article about that. Articles are there to be written. It's about the mindset or opinion of someone. I don't relate to it. I don't understand it and I certainly don't entertain it. It doesn't bother me or the team.
“We are criticized about our games and techniques when we don't play well but when visitors don't play well, it's the wicket. So there is no sense to it as far as I am concerned or the Indian team is concerned.”
The pitch in Delhi for the fourth Test is expected to offer similar spin-friendly conditions. And, while India have come out on top so far, Kohli has said he is determined to end the series on a high and to see an improvement from his batting lineup. Although Ravichandran Ashwin has starred with the ball, India’s batters have struggled to build strong partnerships.
They have, though, fared better than their counterparts. For South Africa, only AB de Villiers has managed to fire a half-century in the series, with captain Hashim Amla particularly struggling, scoring just 83 runs in four innings. Those failings have led to South Africa losing just their second Test series in close to seven years. Yet, having come out on top in the One-Day International and Twenty20 series, Amla, who confirmed he will again be without leading bowler Dale Steyn, is keen for South Africa to end their stay in India on a high.
“It’s important for us to get back to winning ways, that is the key for us,” he said, according to Cricket South Africa. “Every Test match is an important match. There are no freebies in Test cricket and when you play for your country you want to make an impact and you want to win. It’s important for us to at least make it 2-1 to salvage some pride in this series.
“We came to India almost two-and-a-half months ago and started the tour off successfully with wins in the T20 and ODI series’, it would be nice to cap off the tour with a victory.”
4th Test schedule (EST):
Wednesday, Dec. 2 – Sunday, Dec. 6, play starting at 11 a.m. EST each day
TV channel: Willow TV
Live stream: Willow.TV