After a forgettable day in the field, India batting coach Vikram Rathour said the curators hardly got time to prepare the wicket in Indore as the venue was shifted from Dharamsala for third Test against Australia.

Spinner Matthew Kuhnemann’s five-wicket haul and a 60 by Usman Khawaja helped Australia grab the early advantage after they dismissed India for 109 on Wednesday’s opening day of the third Test.

The tourists were 156-4 at stumps, leading India by 47 runs on a viciously turning pitch in Indore, as they look to fight back from two bruising defeats in the series.

“It is a challenging wicket for sure. More turn than what we expected. May be because of the moisture, the ball turned sharply in the morning. We could have made more runs for sure but I don’t think anyone played poor or rash cricket. We just had an off day as a batting unit,” Rathour said in a media interaction, reported PTI.

“Of course you can get out as a batting unit at times but we do prefer to play on turning tracks. That is our strength, that is where we are really good as a unit. To be fair this is a one off wicket. I don’t think the earlier two wickets were bad wickets. It is may be drier than we expected and we saw that. It did a lot more on first day of the Test match than what we expected.

“To be fair to curators, they hardly got time to prepare the wicket. They had a Ranji season here and it is pretty late it that was decided the game will be shifted from Dharamsala. They did not get enough time,” said the former India opener.

The Tests, originally scheduled to take place at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala from 1st to 5th March, was moved to Holkar Stadium, Indore. The BCCI had said that, owing to harsh winter conditions in the region, the outfield at HPCA lacked sufficient grass density and will need some time to develop fully.

Rathour also gave his take on how the Indore pitch evolved during the day.

“It felt like that (that wicket eased out). I won’t be able to comment on that. The guys playing the middle can tell you that better. It felt like it had gone slower later in the day. It wasn’t turning as sharply as it was in the morning,” he said.

He put the batting effort down to an off-day, although India have been repeatedly bailed out by the lower order in home conditions.

“The plan was to trust your defense and wait for the loose balls and score as many as runs you can. It was one of those days when everything you did went into the hands (of fielders). Basically we just had an off day,” he said.

Australia are firmly in control of the Test but Rathour is not too worried as they’d have to bat last.

“Taking a lead is not as big a issue because they will need to bat number four on this surface. Now the challenge is to keep them to as low as possible. We will have to bat well in the second innings,” Rathour added.

‘A really good day for Australia’

Australia spinner Matthew Kuhnemann said Wednesday he enjoyed turning the tables on India with his five-wicket haul in the third Test, after the tourists suffered a spin onslaught earlier in the series.

Kuhnemann returned figures of 5-16 with his left-arm spin to bundle out India for 109 and Australia lead by 47 runs on a viciously turning pitch in Indore.

The hosts, who hammered Australia twice inside three days on the spin-friendly pitches of the first two Tests, had a taste of their own medicine when their batting collapsed in a frenetic morning session.

“It’s amazing. Really special to take wickets out there with the team,” said Kuhnemann, who ruled the roost along with senior spinner Nathan Lyon (3-35).

“I think it is a really good day for our team in general with the bowlers going really well and the batters stepping up as well,” he added.

“But there’s a long way to go in this game. Tomorrow is going to be a massive day.”

The pitch turned from the start and also stayed low to make batting tough, with Virat Kohli top-scoring for India with 22.

Usman Khawaja led Australia’s reply with a gutsy 60, while Ravindra Jadeja took all the four Australian wickets in their 156-4 at stumps.

Kuhnemann, who was flown in after the first Test to make his debut in New Delhi, said he had never seen so much spin but took the conditions in his stride.

“There was a lot of spin today,” Kuhnemann said of the pitch.

“We just talked about bowling the same ball, owning my space. Nathan Lyon was excellent out there. Even after a couple of wickets, he said ‘don’t get ahead of yourself’. Not every day you get these wickets, so enjoy them.”

With AFP inputs

Quotes from PTI