The Cape Town Test between India and South Africa wrapped up within five sessions. India won by seven wickets, clinching their first Test victory at Newlands, Cape Town.
The whole game lasted only 107 overs, the lowest number of overs bowled in a completed Test match with an outright result. 23 wickets fell on Day 1, the joint most in a day’s play in South Africa. The pitch quality came under the scanner, inducing polarized opinions among cricket fans and experts. Plenty of deliveries on the fuller side of the good length region gained extra bounce, creating repeated trouble for the batters.
Rohit Sharma, the Indian skipper, was not perturbed by the nature of the track at Newlands. He, in fact, drew similarities between this Cape Town pitch and the rank turners in India when it comes to challenging the skill level of the batters.
"I honestly don't mind playing on pitches like this as long as everyone keeps their mouth shut in India and don't talk too much about Indian pitches,” Rohit said.
"Because you come here to challenge yourself. Yes, it is dangerous. It is challenging. And when people come to India, it is again pretty challenging. When you are here to play Test cricket, we talk about Test cricket, the ultimate prize, Test cricket being the pinnacle and stuff like that. It's important that we also stand by it.
"When you are put up against, a challenge like that, you come and face it. That's what happens in India, but, in India on day one, if the pitch starts turning, people start talking about 'Puff of dust! Puff of dust!' There's so much crack here on the pitch,” the skipper explained.
Rohit questioned the match referee’s approach while rating pitches and singled out the ‘average’ rating slapped against the Ahmedabad pitch for the World Cup final.
"I think it's important that we stay neutral everywhere we go. Especially the match referees. You know, some of these match referees need to keep their eye on how they rate pitches. It's quite important.
"I still can't believe that the World Cup final pitch was rated below average. A batsman got a hundred there in the final. How can that be a poor pitch? So these are the things the ICC, the match referees need to look into and start rating pitches based on what they see, not based on the countries. I think that's quite important.
"Honestly, I would like to see how the pitches are rated," Rohit said. "I want to see that. Whatever... that chart, I would love to see it, how they rate the pitches, because Mumbai, Bangalore, Cape Town, Centurion, all different venues, overhead conditions are different,” Rohit expressed his thoughts.
The 36-year old also rated the win as one of India’s best Test victories. "It'll be one of our best Test match victories," he said.
"Having not won here in Cape Town, obviously this puts it right up there with all the victories that we've had. It's very hard to compare the Test matches that you play because every Test match has its own importance and own relevance. The Test match that we won at The Gabba as well.
"And the way we won was quite important. From where we came, we were 1-nil down, we won in Melbourne and then we drew the Test match in Sydney and then won in Brisbane. So you can't really rank the Test matches, but this has to be right up there because we had not won here. That shows how important a venue this is for us to come here and perform. I give a lot of credit to our team to put up a performance like that and win the game,” Rohit explained.
India were chasing only 79 in the second session on Day 2. However, Rohit mentioned that given the pitch, “anything could have happened” and they were not taking things for granted during the chase.
"Any score to get on that pitch was going to be challenging," Rohit spoke.
"[Yashasvi] Jaiswal actually played quite freely. It is something that we discussed when we went to bat that we want to take the bowlers on. If the ball is in an area, we need to put it where it's supposed to go.
"When we came up here today, if we didn't show up properly there was a good chance that they might get enough runs on the board. Luckily, we started off really well getting that first wicket in the first over. Then we had some plans to get Aiden Markram out, but he played a superb innings to get that hundred.
"But again, Bumrah, we know his class, we know his quality, got six wickets for us in this innings, and put us ahead in the game a little bit."