India skipper Virat Kohli yesterday credited India’s Test success to not moaning about pitches as he fuelled controversy over spin tracks that have dominated the series against England. “There is always too much noise and too much conversation about spinning tracks,” Kohli said on the eve of the fourth and final Test in Ahmedabad.
“The reason for our success has been that we haven’t cribbed about pitches that we played on and we would continue to play like that as a team.”
England captain Joe Root said Test players should be prepared to manage the outside noise by being level headed. “I think that’s part and parcel of Test cricket now. There is always a lot of noise around the game. There is always a lot of opinion,” said Root. “As a player what you’ve got to do is find a way of dealing with it, whether you like it or not, and try to stay very level. It’s very important that you manage that side of Test cricket really well.”
India lead the series 2-1 after a crushing two-day, 10-wicket win on a viciously turning pitch at the same stadium in the day-night third Test last week. Some pundits said the pitch was not up to standard and even England coach Chris Silverwood said it had pushed England’s batsmen to “our extremes”.
Kohli called for balance in reporting on the state of the wicket. He said that if the media presented “views which say that it is unfair to criticise spinning tracks then I think it will be a balanced conversation”. “The unfortunate bit is that everyone sort of plays along that narrative and just keeps making it news until the time it is relevant.”
Kohli insisted that when India lost a Test in New Zealand last year in three days, “none of our people wrote about the pitch, it was all about how India played badly in New Zealand and none of the pitches were criticised”. Spinners claimed 28 of the 30 wickets to fall in the third Test with the pink ball, used for day-night games, skidding off the surface. Kohli insisted that the quick finish was due to “bizarre” batting by both teams.
“If you make a cricket ball helping the bowlers a focus, or the pitch helping the bowlers a focus, you are not really reading the game properly,” said Kohli. “It’s just the case of the wicket having more pace and bounce and I don’t think the red ball is going to change that whatsoever. I still maintain the result in the last game was purely down to bizarre batting.”
Kohli blamed white-ball cricket for the modern batsmen’s faltering defence in the longer format. “I think because of the influence of white-ball cricket, more results are coming (in Test cricket). But I believe one by-product is that it has also compromised a batsman’s defensive technique,” said Kohli. “The grind of playing through four or five sessions is missing. People are not focusing on so much defence as they have to switch between formats.”
India need a win or a draw to book a clash with New Zealand in the inaugural World Test Championship final. A win for England would put Australia into the decider at Lord’s in June. Root said his team is not obsessed about the state of the pitches on offer and would rather concentrate on playing better cricket to level the series. “As players all you can do is play what’s right in front of you and try and make sure that you play it better than the opposition,” said Root. “And that is our challenge this week and there is no point if we worried about the pitch.”
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