One big talking point throughout the Test series between India and England so far has been the type of pitches being used. After plenty of debate over the nature of the surfaces in the first two matches in Chennai, a lot has been said about the Ahmedabad track for the third Test too.
India defeated England by 10 wickets at the newly-built Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday and while the venue drew praise from all corners for its record seating capacity, the pitch on which the match was played didn’t impress many.
There was sharp turn on offer from day one of the Test with the landing area for bowlers at the popping crease breaking down and leading to huge puffs of dust.
The match ended up being the shortest completed Test since 1935 as it ended well inside two days. And, of course, 28 of the 30 wickets fell to the spinners.
Former and current players from both teams had a lot to say about the Ahmedabad pitch after the game. While some said it was not unplayable, there were others who reckoned it was unfit for the highest level.
Here are some reactions:
“It was a very good pitch to bat on - especially in the first innings - and it felt like the ball was coming on nicely with the odd-ball turning. It was just, I would say, below-par batting from both teams. Our bowlers were much more effective and that’s why we got the result.”
“You just need to be slightly ahead at times and try and find ways to score runs. My intent was not just to survive but try and score runs as well, while respecting the good balls. That’s all I tried to do. The pitch was an interesting one and odd ball was just coming in and some were taking turns. On a track like this, you need to have a clear mindset, which I think I did until I played that sweep shot.”
“I am sure that off the back of this, things will get looked at (by the ICC)…. It has certainly been a challenging surface, a challenging two surfaces the last two games. It’s a real shame, it’s a fantastic stadium, there are 60,000 people come to watch a brilliant iconic Test match and I feel for them. They have come to watch Virat Kohli face Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad or Jack Leach, and watch Ashwin against our top batters like Ben Stokes. I almost feel like they have been robbed, (that) instead they have had to watch me get wickets, which shouldn’t be the case.”
“It was a challenging pitch, no question about it because the odd ball was turning, the other ones were coming straight. 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.”
Alastair Cook (to Channel 4)
“We saw a stat that says this pitch has spun more than any other pitch in India. There’s been so many other balls that have gone straight on as well. So that means when it is turning, it is turning miles. When you see the highlights and the ball skidding on you, we don’t see the build-up: when the exact same ball is spinning miles.
“Virat Kohli’s come out and defended the wicket almost as if it’s a BCCI thing - it cannot possibly be the wicket. Yet it was so hard to bat on that today. So hard. Take the wicket out and blame the batsmen? We’ve got Virat Kohli, Joe Root, we have some great players of spin. Yes, we’ve got some people who have got to learn to play spin better, but we have got great players of spin also struggling. To me It’d be great to have that game with the red ball to see the difference when the ball is skidding on. Today trying to play properly, it was nigh-on impossible.”
Andrew Strauss (to Channel 4)
“Look at Joe Root for a moment. We know he is a great player of spin. 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.”
Ajit Agarkar (to Channel 4)
“The thing is how quickly it happened, so I’ve got to agree that perhaps it was not a second-day pitch. Chennai (second Test) was a little bit different. Ahmedabad was dry, there is no two ways about it. Whether it is a fair contest or not? I mean, look, it is a different sort of a challenge, isn’t it? Again, it is not easy. It is difficult to bat on this patch. But is it a 112 and 145 pitch? Not in my opinion.”
Matthew Hayden (to PTI)
“Provided the wickets are not unfairly groomed, reducing the game to only one type of cricket, I don’t have a problem with it at all. Conditions should promote an even game.”
Mike Atherton (for The Times)
“I thought the pitch was very challenging but not unplayable and England should have got more than 112 on first innings which would have given them a sniff.”
Nasser Hussain (for Daily Mail)
“England looked like startled rabbits in that second innings. I don’t think it was an 81 all out pitch but this was a much tougher pitch than Chennai – the sort of pitch I hated.”
Chris Silverwood (via PTI)
England head coach Chris Silverwood on Friday played down talks of lodging any formal complaint to the ICC regarding the Motera pitch but said he had expected the surface to hold up a little longer, reported PTI.
“First and foremost, just to follow up from what Joe (Root) said yesterday, he got five for 8, but at the same time whatever the pitch did or didn’t do, India ultimately played better than us on that surface, probably pushed us to the extremes of which our players haven’t experienced before,” he said during a virtual press conference.
“We did expect the wicket to hold up a little longer than it did,” he added.
Asked if England will lodge a formal complaint to the ICC, Silverwood said: “Listen, we will be talking about some things behind the scene obviously, but at the same time, we were really disappointed that we lost with three days left ... But unfortunately the game did finish, we are where we are.
“So, from my point of view now it is heading to the next game and how do we make amends and make sure we come up fighting and draw the series.”
Asked to elaborate what he meant by behind the scene discussions, the coach said: “We have spoken to Javagal (Srinath, match referee) but not about the pitch. I think Joe and I gonna sit down for a conversation about it really and see where it goes. We have to accept that we have to get better on this pitches, there are places where we could improve. You look at the first innings we had opportunity to score more runs and make the best use of the pitch.”