Pune turner does not have to be bad news for Proteas
With their trio of spinners, Faf du Plessis’s men can take heart from Australia’s slow poisoners, who sewed up a Test at the stadium in three days
The good news for the SA men’s Test squad in India is that they could get most of the weekend off.
The bad news is that‚ if they do‚ the pitch in Pune — where the second match of their series against India starts on Thursday — will have been true to its history.
But there is more good news: the same history says if that happens it’s the visitors who will be smiling.
The only other Test at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune‚ in February 2017‚ when Australia were India’s opponents‚ ended within three days. Spinners bowled 196.5 of the 255.5 overs — more than three-quarters — and took 32 of the 40 wickets.
And Australia won. Properly: by 333 runs. Steve O’Keefe took 6/35 in each innings and Nathan Lyon claimed 5/74 in the game.
Match referee Chris Broad branded the pitch “poor” in his report‚ and the ground has not seen Test cricket again.
It has since hosted two one-day internationals‚ in which teams dwindled to nine wickets down or were dismissed three times and 283/9 was the highest total.
But the lesson is that a pitch that offers severe turn is not necessarily an insurmountable obstacle for SA, particularly not an SA side that were able to deploy three slow poisoners in the first Test in Visakhapatnam.
“We’ll see what conditions allow us to do when the game starts‚” one of those spinners‚ Senuran Muthusamy‚ said in Pune on Tuesday.