The Virat Kohli-led Team India managed to bounce back in the ongoing four-match Test series against England by registering two straight wins and getting back into contention for the final spot at the inaugural ICC World Test Championship (WTC).
Meanwhile, England have got knocked out of contention for the WTC final against New Zealand with their 10-wicket loss in the day-night third Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday.
The match in Ahmedabad finished in the third session of play on day two, forcing Indian captain Kohli to call it “the most bizarre” Test he had played so far.
But talking about the performance of the biggest protagonist of this two-day drama: the pitch? While cricket pundits labelled it as “definitely poor”, Kohli termed it “very good”, and, instead blamed the batsmen of both sides for performing “under par” against the good spin bowling.
“[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,” Kohli said.
Well, what confounded Kohli was the fact that nearly 21 batsmen got out to the straighter deliveries from the spinners. “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,” he said.
However, two former England skippers – Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss – didn’t agree with Kohli as they believe that the Indian captain was being protective of the groundsmen.
“We saw a stat that says this pitch has spun more than any other pitch in India,” Cook told Channel 4.
“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.”
Cook said the pitch on offer was the main reason behind the batsmen’s struggles. “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.”
Strauss agreed with his former opening partner’s words and gave an example of England captain Root.
“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.”
The fourth and final Test between India and England will be played at the same venue starting March 4.