Ranchi Test pitch preview with the printer from Office Space

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Renouncing orthodoxy and precedent, England took an unlikely win in the first Test of this series. However, some feel that defeat in the third Test last week was the flipside of that attitude. Our own view is that they’d most likely have lost whatever they did – this is playing India in India, after all. Now 2-1 down, their next stop is Ranchi for the fourth match of five.

England’s strategy for this tour appears to have been greatly shaped by their experience in Ahmedabad in 2021. That match featured a grand total of 387 runs and was all over in barely more than five sessions. India made 145 in their first innings and still won by 10 wickets.

Where once Indian Test pitches tended to start flatter than an ironed pancake before crumbling into a helter-skelter final day, that match shapes up as the most extreme example of a move towards pitches that have offered turn from the outset.

This was magnified by the fact it was a day-night Test. Joe Root – who took 5-8 in that match – felt that the shiny lacquer of the pink ball was a more significant factor than the pitch itself. The contrast between seam and shine meant that some balls held up and turned, while others squipped-on straight.

Whatever the mechanics of it, this game cemented in English minds the notion that the most useful bowlers in Indian conditions these days are tall spinners who bowl a consistent line. They feel these qualities help make the most of any inconsistent bounce and also the spin-or-skid uncertainty that has done for so many batters in recent years even when facing a red ball.

It’s sound reasoning really, but Test cricket tends to punish narrow strategising. Rajkot last week was more of an old-school flatty and England were reminded how India used to dominate: endless runs and spinners who are just fundamentally better.

So which kind of pitch will it be for Ranchi? And does it matter? We took the obvious course of action and asked the printer from Office Space.

The printer from Office Space says…



Ranchi has hosted two Tests: one against Australia in 2017 and…


… one against South Africa two years later.

The Australia match…

PAPER JAM (Ed: There is no paper jam.)

… ended in a draw, but India had the better of things, responding to the tourists 451 all out with 603-9 declared. Australia’s second innings ended on 204-6, Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb righting a ship that had been listing ominously at 63-4 in the morning session of the final day.

Steve Smith made an unbeaten 178 in the first innings, while Glenn Maxwell made 104. Cheteshwar Pujara managed 202, supported by Wriddiham Saha, who made 117. Ravindra Jadeja made an unbeaten fifty to go with nine wickets in the match. Overall, 15 of the 25 wickets fell to spin.


The South Africa match was similar in some respects, but the outcome was very different, India winning by an innings and 202 runs after making 497-9 batting first.



… Sharma made 212 and…


… Ajinkya Rahane contributed 115 with Jadeja making his habitual fifty. After that, all of India’s bowlers had a fine old time. Over the course of the match, the seamers just about edged the wicket-taking 14-13 with two run-outs making up the balance.

All of which suggests that trite old saw: Bat first, bat big.


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  1. I was hoping the Ranchi prediction might come from a Rancour.

    Or perhaps Luke Ronchi.

    Or even chart-topping American R&B singer Ashanti.

      1. So glad to see diversity, as requested, KC. Not a white pale stale male in sight. Non cisgendered, without any inconvenient ethnic leanings, The Printer From Office Space makes perfect sense to me, even though I haven’t the foggiest idea what or where Office Space might be.

        Word is, the Ranchi pitch looks well odd.


        “Never seen anything like it”. White flag, anyone?

      2. Oh: Ged, haven’t you really not seen the movie Office Space?

        It is the movie where 3 youth working in the IT space, arrive at the conclusion, that digging roads in the sun might be a better vocation than crunching excel on a desk in an air-conditioned building !!!

      3. Thanks for your help, Marees.

        In truth, I wrote my above comment late in the day without due thought. I did remember this morning that Office Space was a movie and that KC has referred to it in earlier postings. I even looked it up.

        But, also in truth, I have not seen that movie. Nor have I seen Star Wars. Indeed the only film I have seen from that franchise is Return of the Jedi, many years before “Jedi” could be a half-decent pun on one of my my noms de plume.


        Apparently the Ranchi pitch looks like something from a galaxy far, far away, so it might well be that a Jedi pitch reporter could make a decent job of explaining it.

      1. Hi Printer From Office Space.

        I was hoping for more detail than just “PC LOAD LETTER”…

        …that’s right…

        …I wanted “JAM” on it.

  2. Alastair Cook the pundit has been utterly baffled by this pitch in the few snippets of his punditry that I have caught so far during this test match.

    At lunch on day one it was an almost unplayable pitch that couldn’t possibly get better. At stumps on day one it was a pitch that clearly would do a lot in the mornings and nothing in the afternoons…

    …I missed Cook’s post play punditry at the end of day two…

    …by which I mean that I was out playing tennis with Daisy, not that am pining for more Cook punditry. Heaven forbid.

    I know that you don’t do requests, KC, but that doesn’t mean that The Printer From Office Space is averse to them. A pitch report update at this stage of proceedings might be so very helpful to many of us – not least to Alastair Cook.

      1. Stunning image, APW.

        Meanwhile, the test match is bubbling towards a conclusion and my own feeling, shared by Daisy, is that this “pitch from space” has been an excellent as well as an intriguing one, producing an engrossing test match.

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