Bad medicine: Pitch doctor arrives in Dharamsala


Cricket: Mitchell Johnson believes India captain Virat Kohli needs to let his bat do the talking.

The Australian team at the picturesque Dharamsala ground ahead of the fourth Test against India.

THE Indian pitch doctor who gave the kiss of death to the horror wicket in Pune has arrived in Dharamsala to deliver his orders for Saturday’s fourth Test decider.

Australia arrived at the picturesque ground at the foot of the Himalayas on Thursday buoyed by the sight of an Indian wicket finally with some green grass on it and the promise of pace and carry for the likes of Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

However, still 48 hours out from the Border-Gavaskar Trophy going on the line, Australia isn’t making any assumptions and aren’t expected to name an XI until the toss.

Those reservations are well founded, if the Indian board’s head curator Daljit Singh’s track record is anything to go by.

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Singh is reportedly fighting to save his job after he was forced to take responsibility for the first Test surface in Pune that was condemned as “poor” by the International Cricket Council, his second unacceptable rating in the past 14 months.

Australian coach Darren Lehmann (centre) inspects the pitch at Dharamsala.

Australian coach Darren Lehmann (centre) inspects the pitch at Dharamsala.Source:Supplied

Local media reported after the Pune Test that the disaster was caused by 79-year-old Singh railroading the plans of the local curator.

The end result was a moon-like surface described at the toss by Shane Warne as an “eighth-day wicket” that lasted only three days and resulted in punishment by the ICC.

Dharamsala’s maverick cowboy-hat wearing local curator Sunil Chauhan yesterday offered an abrupt “no comment” when asked how his fourth Test pitch would play.

Eyebrows were raised shortly after Australia’s morning training session, when Chauhan then walked Singh out to the middle for an inspection.

Singh might be a sorcerer for producing rank turners, however, it’s difficult to see how in such a short space of time even he could drastically transform a Dharamsala wicket that at the moment resembles a one-day batting paradise.

But the facts are India must win in Dharamsala – a draw would hand Australia the Border Gavaskar Trophy.

The Australian team at the picturesque Dharamsala ground ahead of the fourth Test against India.

The Australian team at the picturesque Dharamsala ground ahead of the fourth Test against India.Source:Supplied

India needs a result wicket.

Dr Singh is on the scene, and Australia is making no presumptions about the wicket that will be unveiled on match morning.

“I’d love to see it fast and bouncy,” said Hazlewood.

“But that’s what they said in Pune as well and we didn’t quite get that.

“I think the way they saw Patty Cummins bowl the other day they don’t really want it any faster than Ranchi I wouldn’t think.

“We’d love it to be that way. It would feel a bit more like home, but I don’t think we’ll get that.

“They can make it however they want, really. It sometimes has pace and bounce and sometimes has spin.”

The Indian Express reported after the Pune Test that Daljit’s position is almost certainly under threat.

It reported: “Since there are no written instructions from the team management or BCCI (with pitch instructions for Pune), the buck stops at Daljit.”

The ICC was scathing in its appraisal of the Pune surface and it’s understood the BCCI may have been slapped with a $15,000 fine.

Originally published as Bad medicine: Pitch doctor arrives in Dharamsala