India v England Men's - Tests
Legends divided over pitch after two days of 'mayhem'
The pitch for the third Test in Ahmedabad has been labelled both 'very good' and 'awful' as pundits are split after India's victory
26 February 2021, 09:25 AM AEST
Former England captain Sir Alastair Cook said he felt uncomfortable watching the "mayhem" of India's rapid victory in the day-night third Test due to the state of the Ahmedabad pitch.
Seventeen wickets fell in just two sessions on Thursday as batsmen on both sides were left in a spin by the pink ball before India eased to a 10-wicket victory.
Cook called India worthy winners but felt the state of the pitch meant "there's something that doesn't sit quite right."
"It doesn't look great when India win by 10 wickets because it was a lot closer than that actually," England's leading Test run-scorer said on Channel 4.
"India deserved the win. Obviously they are better in those conditions, but it was a tough Test match to watch. The pitch had such a big influence on that.
"That was so hard playing against spin today. India lost seven for 40 when the pressure was on, England were all out for 80. That is incredibly hard to bat against.
"I was sitting here thinking how would I have played against certain balls, what game plan. I can't work out a low-risk strategy that would have been successful - unless you have a lot of luck.
"I don't like that on day two. On day four I'd have no problem. People can say that's sour grapes.
"The better side won, and that's fair play to India, but there's something that doesn't quite sit right."
But one-time England superstar Kevin Pietersen rejected criticism of the pitch, saying: "If England had won this Test match there is no way we would be sitting here hammering the wicket.
"Yes there was definitely an overriding ball wins over bat in this Test match but it was a one-off. You are in the subcontinent. When you go to Perth, what happens there?"
Right, here goes...! The batting from both teams was awful! The wicket wasn’t horrendous! It’s just that the batting was dreadful! 21/30 wickets were from straight balls! Nothing dangerous!That’s all! See you in india next week and I’m bringing my kit...my golf kit! 🕺🏽— Kevin Pietersen🦏 (@KP24) February 25, 2021
India's captain Virat Kohli also defended the spin-friendly pitch, saying the match finished in two days because of the batsmen's failure - on both sides - to apply themselves.
"It was a very good pitch to bat on, especially in the first innings," Kohli said after India went 2-1 up in the four-Test series.
"We felt like the ball was coming on nicely with the odd ball turning but it was below-par batting from both teams.
"Our bowlers were much more effective and that's why we got the result."
Kohli pointed out that most of the batsmen fell to deliveries that did not turn.
"It was bizarre that out of the 30 wickets, 21 were off straight balls," he said.
"I feel that's just lapse of concentration or indecision or too many things going on in your head as a batter when you are playing for the turn but getting beaten on the inside.
"It was the classic example of batsmen not applying themselves enough, and maybe that's why it was such a quick game."
Andrew Strauss echoed his former opening partner's remarks and used England captain Joe Root as an example.
"Look at Joe Root for a moment. We know he is a great player of spin," Strauss said. "He is in great form as well. What did he get - 19 today? Might have been out two or three times en route to getting that score.
“And by the way, that's day two of a Test match. To say the pitch has no fault to play, I totally agree with Cooky. Kohli's looking after the groundsmen there to a certain degree."
Former England captain Michael Vaughan also criticised the surface on Twitter, while it wasn't just ex-England players complaining.
Entertaining .. YES .. but this is a awful pitch for Test cricket .. !!!! Complete lottery on day 2 !! #INDvENG— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) February 25, 2021
finished in 2 days Not sure if that’s good for test cricket !If @anilkumble1074 and @harbhajan_singh bowled on these kind of wickets they would be sitting on a thousand and 800 ?🤔However congratulations to 🇮🇳 @akshar2026 what a spell! congratulations @ashwinravi99 @ImIshant 💯— Yuvraj Singh (@YUVSTRONG12) February 25, 2021
Indian legend Sunil Gavaskar agreed the pitch was difficult to bat on, but said the performance of opener Rohit Sharma – who posted scores of 66 and 25no – proved scoring runs was not impossible.
"It was a challenging pitch, no question about it because the odd ball was turning, the other ones were coming straight," Gavaskar told Star Sports.
"So how to keep your mind strong about hoping the variation was the key. India showed, particularly in the second innings, and even when Rohit Sharma batted in the first innings, that they could do it.
On a pitch like this not every batsman is going to be successful, but even if two are successful, and, in India's case both times it was Rohit Sharma, who really was the difference between the two teams."
- with Reuters