'There's two pitches prepared' - Smith in the dark on Ahmedabad surface

By Sports Desk March 08, 2023

Australia's stand-in captain Steve Smith remains in the dark over which pitch will be used in Ahmedabad in the fourth Test against India starting on Thursday.

Ahmedabad's massive Narendra Modi Stadium will host the finale of the Border Gavaskar Trophy, but two pitches were being prepared and under covers when Smith and the Australian team trained at the venue on Tuesday.

Smith conceded he left the venue less than 48 hours out from the first ball of the Test uncertain which pitch they would be playing on, having been given no clarity by the curator.

"The short answer is no," Smith replied when asked he knew which pitch was going to be used in the fourth Test. "There's two prepared."

Smith added that situation, given the short turnaround prior to the game, was something he had never encountered before in his career.

"[There] might have been a couple of [pitches] prepared maybe a bit longer out than two days but I can't remember two days," he said.

It is the latest in a series full of controversies surrounding pitches used, with all three Tests completed within three days so far. The series is on track to finish with the fewest balls bowled in a four-match series in Test history.

India coach Rahul Dravid had more clarity on which pitch was going to be used, although he said both being under covers was unusual.

"I don't know why two strips are covered," Dravid said. "I never asked him why he covered the other one. But I don't know what that was. We're playing on this one, I have no idea about the other one."

Australia can secure a series draw with victory in Ahmedabad after an impressive nine-wicket win in Indore in the third Test.

The tourists have come in for constant criticism after falling 2-0 down in the series, with Smith responding that some of that had been "mind-boggling" particularly around their bowling selections.

Australia have deployed three spinners in their past two Tests in the series where fast bowlers have played a minor role and been far less fruitful. The five leading wicket-takers in the series are all spinners, with 78 of the 93 wickets taken by bowlers coming via spin.

"It's been weird with a bit of the commentary back home, people talking about us playing three quicks and one spinner," Smith said.

"It's kind of mind-boggling to me when we look at these surfaces and we see what we've had, 11 innings in six days or something like that, and spinners have taken the bulk of the wickets and you see how difficult it is to play the spin.

"It's kind of odd to hear that kind of commentary, but we've had faith in what we're trying to do and it's good that we are able to show that we can play with three spinners and win. We weren't too far away in Delhi either, outside of that hour of madness.

"Nice to know our plans and everything we are trying to do can work."

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