The pitch which was a mix of red and black is not new to Indian players. But prior to the Test, as has been the case throughout the series, there was selective watering. Though it’s a common practice, what made it so hard for Indian batsmen was the fact that the moisture content – black soil tends to absorb more of it, which made it a bit damp. So whenever the ball landed in those parts – which had a bit of grass cover – it kept low. And whenever the ball landed in the dry area – mostly red soil – it found a sharp turn and bounce.
Selective watering is a regular feature in Indian pitches but works better if the pitch isn’t a mixed-soil in nature. Black and red soils are contrasting as it is, offering different bounce but the selective watering meant it was even more of a contrast here.
What happened in the second and third session?
Once the pitch was exposed to hot sun – especially in the second session — the moisture disappeared. The ball spun but a touch slower than the first. The spite of the first session wasn’t quite there later. Also, the balls that bounced more than expected were fewer.
Would it ease up on day 2 and 3?
Australia may have found it better to bat, but according to those in the know it is not going to get any easier for batsmen. Since the pitch was watered even on the eve of the Test, and because of the dew factor, there is a possibility that moisture will be in play on Day 2 morning too. The deterioration will continue and it’s not going to get too easy to bat.
What will be interesting to watch is the second part of day 2 to see if the spin gets slower. But with the pitch likely to continue to deteriorate, the shot selections would be even more crucial. Already the difference in the approach of two teams has shown. Indians tried to cut and swipe against the turn but Australians batted a lot straighter and played the line of the ball, rather than chasing it.