The newly-built Narendra Modi Cricket Stadium in Ahmedabad has escaped serious sanctions from the International Cricket Council (ICC) after the much-debated pitch used in the third Test of the four-match series between India and England has received a rating of ‘Average’.
If the rating were below average or poor, the world’s largest cricket stadium would have attracted some punishments. The fourth Test pitch rating, which also took place at the same venue, is ‘Good’.
The third Test, which was a day-night affair, ended within two days and had gained the attention of quite a few former English players who criticised the pitch.
Some eminent names like David Lloyd, Michael Vaughan, Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss had lambasted the pitch after the Test was ended in two days.
On the other hand, the England team management went to the ICC and left the ball in their court to decide on the quality of the wicket used in the third Test. India skipper Virat Kohli had blamed it on the incompetence of the batsmen.
According to the new ICC rules (came into effect in January 2018), an ‘average’ rating requires no disciplinary measure. However, a rating of poor or unfit would have resulted in serious penalties.
Generally, the match referee gives the pitch rating in consultation with umpires and match officials, who happens to be from neutral countries. But during these extraordinary times, where only home umpires are officiating, the process of grading also got ICC involved. This is done so that the verdict cannot be accused of being a ‘biased’ decision. In the India-England series, former India pacer Javagal Srinath was the match referee.
As per Cricbuzz, the match and ICC officials have viewed the footage saw the Test surface had the much-required carry – a crucial aspect as the absence of such would have led to a lower rating. The colour of the ball was also taken into consideration, and it was decided that the extra layer of pink coating enabled the ball’s skiddy behaviour.
Another factor that the officials stressed was the statistics of Pink Ball Tests, which suggests that not many Day-Night fixtures have lasted for five days. Out of the total 16, Pink Ball Tests played so far, only five games have gone to the fifth day, with two of them ending inside two days and five inside three days. The remaining four Pink-Ball Tests ended on Day Four.
The first two Tests played at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai have received ‘Very Good’ and ‘Average’ rating respectively.