India skipper Virat Kohli credited India’s Test success to not moaning about pitches as he fuelled controversy over spinning tracks that have dominated the series against England — but some previous comments have come back to haunt him.
“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.”
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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,” he said.
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.”
However Kohli has been called out for glaring hypocrisy, given he criticised the ball and the pitch after India lost the first Test of the series.
“The reality of the situation is that the pitch was very flat and slow,” he said at the time. “I’m not saying that as an excuse and that we will hold onto as a team. But you have to understand the reality of what went on.
“Quality of the (SG) ball was also not what we were very pleased to see as that was also the case in the past. Just the ball completely being destroyed in 60 overs is not something that you experience as a Test side and any side could be prepared for.”
Virat Kohli is hoping for victory in the fourth Test.Source:Getty Images
English cricket writer Lawrence Booth pointed out those quotes on Twitter, writing: “Kohli says India are successful ‘because we don’t crib about pitches’. Here are his thoughts after England won the first Test. Pitch was ‘flat and slow’, and the ball was not good quality.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan also joined in. “Pretty sure the groundsman was sacked after the 1st Test because the pitch was too flat!!!!! Isn’t that cribbing about a pitch??” he tweeted.
“Pretty sure I heard a few complaints about the ball after the 1st Test.”
Journalist Chris Stocks wrote for inews Kohli has left himself “open to ridicule when claiming neither conditions nor the ball have a bearing on the outcome of Test matches”, especially after teammates Ravichandran, Ajinkya Rahane and Axar Patel all said the pink ball skidding off the surface quicker than usual played a major role in the game.
Ahead of the fourth Test 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.
England captain Joe 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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