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21 Nov 2020
India’s skipper Virat Kohli has come down heavily on cricket pundits and former players who have criticised the pitches used in the last two Tests of the series between India and England. Kohli called the conversion around the quality of pitches ‘noise’ and lamented the lack of ‘balanced conversation’ on the narratives about pitches.
"There's always too much noise and too much conversation about spinning tracks. I'm sure that if our media is in a space to contradict those views or present views that say that it is unfair to criticise only spinning tracks, then I think it'll be a balanced conversation. But the unfortunate bit is that everyone sort of plays along with that narrative and just keeps making it news till the time it is relevant,” Kohli said in the pre-match press conference on Wednesday.
Kohli pointed out India’s big loss on overseas tours where matches finished early inside the three days, but the words that were propagated that Indian batsmen can’t play on seaming tracks, and while foreign batsmen fail on Indian pitches that assist turn and bounce, people start blaming the nature of pitches.
"A Test match happens, and if we win on day four or five no one says anything, but if a match finishes in two days, everyone pounces on the same issue. It just becomes an issue to talk about. We lost in New Zealand on day three, in 36 overs. I'm sure none of our people as well wrote about the pitch. It was all about how India played badly in New Zealand. And none of the pitches were criticised. No one came and saw how much the pitch was doing, how much the ball was moving, and how much grass there was on the pitches."
He expressed dismay over a lot of analysis over the quality of pitches and not the quality of innings by batsmen and spin bowling from both sides. He criticised batsmen from both sides for bizarre batting displays, especially in the last game. He outlined the impact of a Pink ball in the last Test but weighed in that the ball was the same in terms of general characteristics, and hence the onus was on batsmen to put up good efforts to set up the game, and they failed in the task.
"I don't understand why the cricket ball, the cricket pitch, all these things are brought into focus. Why don't we just focus on the fact that the batsmen were just not skilled enough on that pitch to play properly, and it was a bizarre display of batting by both teams in a Test match, and I will continue to maintain that, because I've played this game long enough to understand what happens on the cricket field. And it's not a change in the ball colour or the change in the cricket ball, it's still round, it still weighs five and a half ounces, so I don't know what difference it makes suddenly,” Kohli added.
India have been apologetic for playing on turning tracks and will be desperate to win the last Test to win the series and seal a spot in the World Test Championship for themselves on a similar pitch to the one in the last game.