Playing on the type of wicket we saw in Mohali first up was a good thing, even if South Africa came up short.
It’s a pity that the pitch in the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium has become the main talking point of the first Test between India and South Africa, which the former won by 108 runs inside three days.
The criticism, mainly from outside India, has been fierce and full of emotion but also without context.
India should not be criticised for producing a wicket that played like a day four pitch on day one (according to Dean Elgar) since they have a right to prepare a surface which will suit them better than the opposition.
It’s called home ground advantage.
If the ICC deemed it such a big problem, there would be procedures in place to make sure teams aren’t allowed to do it. Let’s not pretend this was the first Test to finish within three days. It’s happened in other countries on occasion; whether it was a seaming track or a turning one doesn’t matter.
Let’s not forget the pressure India were under to get a good start to the Tests after losing the T20 and ODI series. They needed to win and they knew they needed a surface which would suit R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
To be fair, India took a gamble in asking for a pitch like that and I don’t think even they expected it to be as bad as it turned out to be. Their batsmen struggled too and Virat Kohli admitted afterwards that they, just as much as South Africa, didn’t play spin particularly well.
The difference was India won the toss, which by all accounts gave them the slight edge and made it just a little bit easier.
But maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all. South Africa played on a bad pitch in the first Test and with injury disruptions not helping were found wanting.
Before the series started they thought they knew what to expect and played accordingly, failing to adapt when it turned out not to be as much of a turning pitch as they anticipated.
But now they know what to expect. They can learn from the experience, make the necessary adjustments and be better next time. Surely the pitches in the remaining three Tests can’t be worse than the one in Mohali. Perhaps India will be wary of the criticism and try and prepare wickets that are less one dimensional.
Playing on that surface will equip South Africa’s batsmen for what to expect in the remaining games, this time based on a real experience and not just an expectation. Considering this was Dean Elgar, Stiaan van Zyl, Faf du Plessis and Dane Vilas’s first Test on Indian soil, that experience could prove to be vital for the future.