After West Indies moved from from 113 for 5 to 295 for 7 at stumps, Umesh was asked about how India have been giving a lot of runs to the lower-order in Tests this year and he said: “If you are saying that lower order has scored runs, then you must realise that in India with SG Test balls on these kind of flat tracks you neither get pace nor bounce.
“What happens with SG balls is that they become soft after 20 overs so the batsmen coming later don’t face much difficulty. So tailenders know that it will neither swing nor reverse. You just have to wait for something to happen and keep trying. But you can’t really do it on such a big ground, the ones and twos keep coming.
“All you can do is to bowl one spot but then you will realise that nothing is happening even off the pitch nor is it swinging. So when middle and lower order comes in they know that ball has become soft and it doesn’t come at a pace and batting becomes easier.”
Given these concerns, it was strange to see India choosing to take the second new ball only seven overs after it had become available. Nevertheless, they appear quite upset; enough that they’re blaming the SG ball for their being unable to break through the opposition as quickly as they’d like.
And it wasn’t like India had a bad day in the field either. Even though they had to make do with only four bowlers – Shardul Thakur picked up a groin injury while bowling his second over – they managed to pick up seven wickets in 95 overs. Umesh himself had Shai Hope lbw in the 32nd over, dismissed Shane Dowrich in the same way in the 60th over and then had Jason Holder caught down the leg side with the second new ball.
Kohli had claimed that a poor quality ball will lead to a lot of “dead sessions” in Test matches, but in India, only five of the last 25 games have ended up not yielding a result – and two of them – South Africa 2015 and Sri Lanka 2017 – were heavily rain-affected. In any case, SG has said that it is open to sitting down with the BCCI and if needed raise the seam of their balls by 1 or 1.5 mm to address this issue.