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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Kohli insists no demons in Motera pitch, Root leaves it for ICC to decide

Virat Kohli on Thursday said poor batting and not the pitch was responsible for the day-night third Test against England winding up inside two days and described the performance of batsmen on both sides as "bizarre".

By: PTI |
February 25, 2021 11:41:19 pm
India win by 10 wickets (Source: PTI)

India captain Virat Kohli on Thursday said poor batting and not the pitch was responsible for the day-night third Test against England winding up inside two days and described the performance of batsmen on both sides as “bizarre”.

Kohli insisted there were no demons in the pitch, which has been called “not ideal” by several former players like Michael Vaughan and Harbhajan Singh. Kohli said the track was absolutely fine at least in the first innings and only the odd ball was turning in the game which India won by 10 wickets on Thursday.

“To be honest, I don’t think the quality of batting was up to standards. We were 100 for 3 and bowled out for less than 150. It was just that the odd ball turning and it was a good wicket to bat in the first innings,” the India skipper said in his defence of the pitch.

Kohli said batsmen of both the sides did not apply themselves enough. Only Rohit Sharma (66 and 25 not out) and from England Zak Crawley (53 in first innings) managed to bat with ease.

“It was bizarre that 21 of the 30 wickets fell to straight balls. Test cricket is about trusting your defence. Lack of application ensured it was a quick finish,” Kohli said.

Left-arm spinner Axar Patel stole the limelight in only his second Test along side veteran Ravichandran Ashwin by returning with match figures of 11 for 70 to earn the player-of-the-match award as India decimated England by 10 wickets to take an unassailable 2-1 lead in the four-match series.

Off-spinner Ashwin (15-3-48-4) also became the fourth Indian bowler and second fastest in the world to complete a commendable milestone of 400 Test wickets on Thursday.

Kohli showered praise on his two spinners for their match-winning efforts.

“A bizzare game which got over in 2 days. A lot of people were relieved when Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja) got injured. But then this guy (Axar) comes in. Bowls it quicker and from a bigger height as well. If the wicket has something in it, Axar is very lethal.

“I think we need to stand up and take notice of what Ashwin has done. In Tests, he is a modern day legend. As a captain, I am so pleased he is in my team,” he said.

It’s for ICC to decide whether Motera pitch is fit for purpose, not players: Root

England skipper Joe Root on Thursday said it is up to the ICC, and not the players, to decide whether the “difficult” Motera pitch is suitable for Test cricket after his side was crushed inside two days by India in a low-scoring day-nighter here.

Root refused to blame the surface for England’s batting woes after the team folded for 112 and 81 in its two innings. But he said it is the ICC that should consider the suitability of the pitch for Test cricket.

“I think that this surface, it’s a very challenging one, is a very difficult one to play on. It is not for players to decide whether it is fit for purpose or not and that is upto the ICC,” said Root, who took a career-best five-wicket haul during India’s first innings.

“As players we are going to try and counter what is in front of us as best as we can,” he added.

Root said his team missed the opportunity to get a big first innings total, which seemed possible when it was 70 odd for just two wickets.

“We are disappointed, I feel we have missed an opportunity, more so in the first innings than anything. The position we found ourselves in at 71/2, we had a real chance to (score big).

“In hindsight, if we would have got 200, that would have been a very good score on that wicket and the game would have looked completely different,” Root said at the virtual post-match press conference.

Root said the pink ball became a huge factor on the pitch given the brilliant performance by left-arm spinner Axar Patel.

“The ball was quite a big factor on this wicket. The plastic coating and the hardness of the seam compared to the red SG ball meant it almost gathered pace off the wicket. A lot of the dismissals on both teams were actually due to beaten for pace (and) not beaten on the inside.

“And credit to Axar in particular. He utilised and exploited that exceptionally well and found a good method on that surface, which made it very challenging,” he added.

Patel (6/38 and 5/32) and Ravichandran Ashwin (3/26 and 4/48) wreaked havoc on the surface and Root said his side will have to find a way to be better.

“We have got to get better and we are going to keep looking to find a way to scoring runs on surfaces like this,” Root said.

Root was also asked whether ICC should take over pitches if it was conducting the World Test Championship, to which he said that was a decision for the ICC to make.

“That is something the ICC will look at and that is the decision they will have to make. There is always going to (be) slight home advantage. The decision is there for the ICC to make.

“But as players, we want to play against the best, we want to compete against the best in whatever conditions they are,” the England skipper added.

With Thursday’s loss, England were knocked out of contention from the World Test championship final as they needed to beat India at-least by a margin of two Tests in the four-match series.

The fourth and the final Test will be played at the same venue from March 4.

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