India vs South Africa: Stung by spin - Scarred by Australia, the lesson Virat Kohli and team learnt in Pune
The first and the last time Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune hosted a Test, the move to prepare a rank-turner backfired for India. Australian batsmen survived an all-out spin attack from the hosts. After dominating New Zealand, England and Bangladesh in the home season, without conceding a single Test, India got humbled in the series opener in Pune.
Steve O’ Keefe brought Indian batsmen too their knees with 12 wickets in the Test and add to it Steve Smith’s century in Australia’s second innings, who negated India’s spinners on a pitch where KL Rahul was the only another batsman to score a half-century.
ALSO READ: Any pitch perfect for India - Bharat Arun
The weather conditions in soggy Pune will prevent the coaching staff ground staff from asking for a turner. Add to it the Pune nightmare against Australia, where the result of the game also turned away from India. The Pune heat saw the pitch dry up during the course of the game and with Australia bowling in the fourth innings, they wrapped the match on the third day on a fifth-day pitch.
To avoid a déjà vu of that, India will accept whichever track is on the offer for the Test.
Like Australia, South Africa too have an experienced campaigner in Keshav Maharaj, who is just a wicket away from becoming fourth South African spinner to scalp 100 wickets in Tests. On turning pitches in Sri Lanka last year, Maharaj bagged nine wickets in the first innings of the second Test, finishing the series with 16 wickets in two-match series.
ALSO READ: Ahead of 2nd SA Test, bowling coach throws challenge to Team India
Maharaj, mostly plays on South African pitches that are averse to spin, and crave for sub-continent pitches, where he can exploit the conditions to his favour. Maharaj is no stranger to when it comes to taking advantage of the spinning conditions.
Indian spinners are no less but another off days, like what happened in Pune two years back, will be unbearable this time.