The pitch drew a lot of criticism, especially from former England players, for becoming a turner almost from the beginning. Axar Patel, the India left-arm spinner, came on as early as in the seventh over of the first day, and spinners picked up 28 of the 30 wickets to fall – Patel got 11, R Ashwin picked up seven, and even Joe Root returned a five-for in India’s first innings.
The match finished in just 140.2 overs – England were bowled out for 112 and 81, while India scored 145 before chasing down 49 without losing any wickets. It was the shortest completed Test since 1935. The win gave India a 2-1 lead in the four-match series, which they built on in the final game to close out a 3-1 victory and a spot in the World Test Championship final.
India captain Virat Kohli had called the pitch “very good” after the game, which finished 98 minutes before the scheduled end on the second day, but admitted it was the most “bizarre” Test he had played in his career.
“[It was] a very good pitch to bat on – especially in the first innings – and it felt like the ball was coming on nicely with the odd-ball turning,” Kohli had said after the game. “It was just, I would say, below-par batting from both teams. Our bowlers were much more effective and that’s why we got the result.”
But, commenting on Channel 4, Alastair Cook said Kohli “defended the wicket almost as if it’s a BCCI thing” and Andrew Strauss agreed with his former opening partner, saying, “To say the pitch has no fault to play, I totally agree with Cooky – Kohli’s looking after the groundsmen there to a certain degree.”
Former Indian cricketers were not as critical, with Sunil Gavaskar, who was commentating on Star Sports, calling the pitch “challenging” for batsmen.
The pitch for the second Test of the series, which was played in Chennai and ended on the fourth day when India sealed a 317-run win, also earned an “average” rating, while the pitch for the series opener, also in Chennai, was rated “very good”, and the pitch for the last game, in Ahmedabad, was “good”.
Pitches and outfields are rated by the ICC match referees, which, in this case, was former India fast bowler Javagal Srinath.