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Pundits, former cricketers trash Motera pitch, India defend it

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

The Ahmedabad pitch has come under the scanner after the pink ball Test finished within two days with 17 wickets falling on day two, but that hasn’t deterred India’s players from defending the surface.

“I don’t think the quality of batting was up to standards….it was a good wicket to bat in the first innings.”

Virat Kohli’s comments at the post-match presentation ceremony sparked something close to fury as former players and experts questioned the rationale in the statement with 28 of the 30 wickets falling to spinners in the third India-England Test match, which finished inside two days.

Seventeen wickets fell on day two of the Test match with all of those going to the spinners, with England’s skipper and part-timer Joe Root taking five of those while leaking just eight runs.

According to the ICC, “A Poor pitch is one that does not allow an even contest between bat and ball,” it says, “either by favouring the batters too much, and not giving the bowlers (seam and spin) from either team sufficient opportunity to take wickets, or by favouring the bowlers too much (seam or spin), and not giving the batters from either team the opportunity to make runs.”

As the collapse from either side saw the match come to an early conclusion, a few stats were thrown around that backed up the notion of the pitch taking “too much spin”. This was the shortest completed Test match, in terms of number of balls (842), since 1935. The combined first innings totals of England and India (257 runs) was the second-lowest ever for a Test played in India.

But in the press conference, Indian opener Rohit Sharma, who top-scored in the Test with scores of 66 and 25*, agreed with his captain, terming it a “nice pitch” to bat on.

“Honestly speaking the pitch didn’t do anything. If I can recollect, lot of the balls the batters got out to was to straighter deliveries. We also didn’t bat well, not just them. The pitch had nothing, no demons as we call. It was a nice pitch to bat on. Once you’re in, you can score runs as well. You just need to apply and keep concentrating, and score runs,” Rohit said.

The ball not taking turn accounting for a majority of the wickets was used by both Kohli and Rohit to defend the pitch with the Indian skipper throwing a stat that “out of 30 wickets, 21 was to straight balls”. However, speaking on Channel 4’s coverage, former England captain Alastair Cook made the point that that doesn’t take into account the build up to a wicket falling, with sharp turn causing indecision in the batsman’s mind, making the straighter ball more effective.

There were some pundits who came out in support of the pitch and the contest it helped create.

 

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