Dear Virat Kohli, creating a pitch that only favours your team, is unfair

Published: December 5, 2015
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Indian captain Kohli also defended the pitches, and more so defended his team’s success. PHOTO: REUTERS

Finally, the Proteas’ un-defeated run of nine years in Tests comes to an end, and it was India who literally forced it to come to an end.

Since the achievement was so massive, it was presumed that there would be words of praise for the young Indian team, who managed to achieve something no one could in nearly a decade, but that was not the case.

The whole discussion was down to the fact that ‘pitches were off sub-standard’ and that the victory looked more like a “snatched” one than an “earned” one.

The discussion increased with the number of matches, and with it increased the anger within the Indian team management as well, where the likes of captain Virat Kohli and team director Ravi Shastri were left fuming after the comments about the pitches.

Photo: AFP

Ravi Shastri slammed Australian veteran Mathew Hayden and all-rounder Glen Maxwell, who criticised the pitch in the third Test match which ended in less than three days.

“Let them sit in Australia and talk about their pitches,” said Shastri. “Tell them not to waste their time about Indian tracks. Come and play here.”

“When we go overseas, we don’t have any choices. Why would you complain?”

Photo: AFP

Indian captain Kohli also defended the pitches, and more so defended his team’s success, which is somewhat tainted due to this pitch controversy.

“Why are we not talking about the fact that we are 2-0 up in the series?” said Kohli. “We are criticised about our game and technique when we don’t play well abroad. But when the visitors perform badly, it’s always the wicket.”

Looking at both of the above statements, Shastri and Kohli seem to be missing the point. As an avid cricket follower, we love to see a competition between the bat and ball, but what happened in India is absolutely shambolic to say the least.

When Kohli and the Indian team complain about tracks outside Asia, their records suggest otherwise. In the recent series, a total of nine innings before the start of the fourth Test and only four 50s or plus have been scored from both teams, whereas only three players out of both squads have an average of 30 plus.

On the contrary, looking at India’s last three tours to AustraliaSouth Africa and England, they did lose the series comprehensively, but their batting performance was far superior even in those grounds than in the current series at home.

In South Africa in 2013/14, in four innings, Indian batsmen managed to score two centuries and five 50s, and Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Kohli, all had averages over 65.

In the England series of five Tests in 2014, Indian batsmen managed to score two centuries along with 15 half centuries. Later last year, India visited Australia, where in a four-match series, their batsmen managed to score seven 100s and 11 50s.

What those records suggest was that India did manage to play on those pitches, but perhaps their quality was not the same as of their opponents, and that’s why they ended up on the losing side. But in this series, Faf Du Plessis said that after the first day of the third Test, the par score on that pitch in the first innings was not more than 140 – which pretty much sums up the criticism on the playing surface.

Pakistan just won the series against England in the Emirates, and no one made a fuss about the pitches, as everyone expected them to turn. But it was nothing like the India-South Africa series, where if you score a four and even if you are an Indian batsman, you might feel like throwing a party later at night.

What Kohli and the team have to understand is that creating a pitch that favours you is fine, but creating a pitch which practically makes it impossible for the other team to play will be termed as ‘unfair’. Similarly, one is called a dry track, one is called a rank turner, and one is called “a surface full of scattered little stones, and a ball hitting on any of them can either tweak a mile, or might just come straight, or might stay down, or might just go to the fourth slip without anyone touching it”.

I think Kohli and the team took the advertisement “Mushkil hai, maza ayega” (It’s hard, will be fun) to a whole new level.

Azeem Siddiqui

Azeem Siddiqui

The author is a sports writer, sports blogger and sub-editor sports desk at Express Tribune. He tweets as @aze3msiddiqui (twitter.com/aze3msiddiqui)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Akhand Bharat

    As long as both teams play on the same pitch there is nothing to complain. SA failed to adapt to the conditions and India was superior to them.Recommend

  • Rani

    like it, you are absolutely right, but India was desperate to win in this tour so they went for cheating.Recommend

  • Allah Hafiz

    I think India is not a team that great i as a pakistani team…I dont think India will provide a competition to pakistan….hence it wont be fun…hence pakistan should not play india in a bilateral series…..It will be good if pakistan play a series with azad kashmir as it is a independent country……Recommend

  • Waron Dafe

    I know after the england drubbing pakistan’s highest selling product is burnol, but that no mean that pakistanis have to be jealous of the Indian victory.Recommend

  • whatever

    Dear Author, did you watch today’ match? Virat and Rahane scored as much as South Africa whole team and yes you can’t replace a pitch at night. try to learn ‘give praise where its due’.Recommend

  • Gpr

    Subcontinental pitches have always supported the spinner more than fast bowlers, nothing new there.

    If you go to New Zeland, they will prepare green top, in Australia bouncy pitches to suit their bowlers, in England swinging grassy pitches to suit English style of bowling.
    They all take advantage of domestic condition. So does Pakistan, it wins in UAE but outside UAE it looses tamely.

    So why blame India, beside whatever the pitch condition, both the teams bat on the same pitch. Batsmen need to learn to apply themselves.Recommend

  • Muhammad Arslan

    I disagree with the author here. Pakistan didn’t create a green pitch to host England. Variety of wickets are actually the flavours of cricket that make cricket interesting and more challenging!!!
    1 point that I feel should be discussed here is that as long as the pitches are like the ones in Delhi and Chennai is something expected of Indians. But Nagpur and Mohali pitch were poor for cricket as even ICC rated Nagpur pitch as poor as highest score on that pitch from either side in all 4 innings was 40. Even broadcaster had to face a loss of around 80 crores as match wrapped up within 3 days!!!Recommend

  • auginpk

    The pitch is same for both the side, then why complain.Recommend

  • abhi

    Why this cribbing? SA also has some spinners, they were not able to take adavantage of conditions.Recommend

  • Enkay

    Indians should supply a few Million Tubes of Burnol as the “Burning Pain” is now out of control!Recommend

  • Logical Thinker

    Yea right if South Africa can’t score runs there must be something in pitch. If same happened with India in South Africa on fast tracks, the headlines would have been “Dear India loss is your fault, don’t blame the pitch”.Recommend

  • Logical Thinker

    What a patriotic blog by a Pakistani blogger. As a Pakistai warrior blogger he did his part in maligning India.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    This is our country, we will do whatever we want.
    If you want to play on pitches you like go make them in your own country.Recommend

  • Someone

    When India lost one day series on such pitches, no one complained. Suddenly pitches became villain after SA lost tests. Well seems neighborhood can’t digest that India has beaten the top notch team so comprehensively while neighborhood team is rubbing its nose on “home” ground against mediocre English team.Oh well, pretty expected.Recommend

  • LS

    Wow – 2 teams playing on same pitch amounts to cheating? So I wonder if England was cheating since Paki’s lost? They were also playing on same pitch…. In either case the Pitch wasn’t modified midway… Typical Paki logicRecommend

  • LS

    Dear Azeem Siddiqui,

    Every team creates pitches that suits their bowlers and team. Australians and South Africans do not create pitches that suit Indians but you expect Indians to create pitches to suit them? Nice logic… If our ability to adapt and score on foreign pitches was so good then we would not have lost the matches.

    Next time you have beef (oops – I would be called an Intolerant Indian) with India come with a valid logic not something half baked like this.Recommend

  • asad

    Lets play in UAE, and we could have a healthy and eye opening test match experienceRecommend

  • asad

    You dont watch test cricket i suppose, you cannot exploit the condition so much that you leave no space for the guests.. extremely spinning track could have only helped india, and that does not require a PHD student to know thatRecommend

  • Voice of Reason

    It is amusing to see that Indians are celebrating a series victory that has not received accolades from anyone in the entire cricketing community.
    Indians do not remember that players like Sachin have been celebrated by the entire cricketing world, including Pakistan, since he has established himself a great legend purely on his outstanding performance all over the world. So nobody is out to malign India. Please do not be so insecure.
    And yet, preparing pitches that are extremely biased toward Indian style of play does not merit accolades, it only smells of childish spoilsport behavior to achieve a hollow sense of achievement. Recall that when India won an ODI in Karachi after a close fight, the crowd clapped on their victory, only because it was fairly fought and it was a deserving win. No one is clapping for you now.
    India, due to its massive influence on ICC, has managed to get away with such unprofessional behavior and has been allowed the audacity to defend their pitches.Recommend

  • Yash Vora

    shameful – d extent of hatredRecommend

  • Akhand Bharat

    If the Proteas couldn’t play spin good enough or didn’t have quality spinners it is not India’s problem!!Recommend

  • Sane

    In few years time Pakistan shall play cricket with Kashmir and Khalisatn cricket teams both. In few years both would be independent states.Recommend

  • Sane

    Pakistan should not play cricket with India in any part of the world.Recommend

  • vijay2day

    Now why is the this so called Sports writer not commenting on the superb T20 series win of India in the just concluded 3-0 win against Australia in Australia? Now its known that you sell your point in Pakistan only if you are an India hater and have tremendous jealousy towards them. Mr. Sports writer you are one of them.Recommend