Virat Kohli and his India team were criticised for asking the groundsmen to prepare turning wickets for the Test series against South Africa, rather strangely considering the whole point of home advantage is you, well, prepare pitches that suit your team the best, even if one particular wicket might have been a "turning pitch" too far.
So, after thumping Australia at their own backyard in a T20 series, India would have hoped for some help from the groundsmen going into the three matches against Sri Lanka, and that too a seriously understrength Sri Lanka.
Instead, what awaited MS Dhoni and his India team in Pune was what the captain himself described as an "English wicket." There was no brown on the pitch, nothing to suggest it might assist the spinners; there was plenty of grass, though, and according to Dhoni it wasn't even rolled in well enough so that the ball would come on nicely to the bat.
So a spongy track that had a bit of nip awaited the Indian batsmen, who were asked to wield the willow first, and what followed was an absolute muddle.
No matter how bad the pitch might have been, there was no excuse for some of the shots played by the India batsmen. Shikhar Dhawan shouldn't be playing across the line like that when your team is two wickets down early in the game; Yuvraj Singh had just got beaten by a short ball, before trying to "take on" the fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera, when India were staring down the barrel. Even Dhoni's shot, off another short ball, was not the greatest, while Suresh Raina failed to take advantage of a life given to him, getting out in the very next ball.
The fact that Kasun Rajitha and Dasun Shanaka were unknown quantities on a pitch assisting the fast bowlers also did not help, but credit to the three youngsters – Chameera included – for taking full advantage of a helpful wicket.
However, with the World T20, which India will host, just a month away, this is not the kind of preparation that the home team needs; unless the wickets are going to be of a similar nature -- and we all know that is not going to be the case.
The Dharamsala wicket has a bit of pace, but the ball comes on nicely and runs are the order of the day on that ground more often than not, as that India vs South Africa 1st T20 clearly showed. Nagpur, the other venue where the bulk of the World T20 matches will be played, is usually a slow pitch, and while Wankhede, Mohali and Bengaluru might have a bit of pace – it could be slow as well -- there is plenty of runs to be scored on those pitches.
The final is scheduled to be held in Kolkata, and the Eden Gardens pitch is normally slow and low. So, at a time when all the matches India play at home should be preparing them for the World T20, this Pune one did neither, unless the whole idea was to take away that false sense of security created by the series win over Australia.
Wickets that mirror the ones India will play in at the World T20 should be the order of the day in this T20 series; otherwise playing Sri Lanka, or any other team at home, a month before a World Cup, is pretty pointless, really, no matter how differently-interesting a contest this first T20 on Tuesday might have been.