The Motera Test was slow, getting wickets was difficult and the manner in which the match unfolded left a bad taste in Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s mouth. And the Indian skipper has never been one to mince words.
In the post-match conference, he let the whole world know what he felt pitches in India should do: “Hopefully in the coming matches, we will see the wicket turn right from start, or as soon as possible,” Dhoni said. “There wasn’t enough turn and bounce for the spinners in Motera. Our fast bowlers bowled really well. They gave us the breakthrough when it was really needed. When we chased 77, there was nothing for the spinners and it became slightly better to bat against the pacers.”
And in appears that the message has been well received by the Board of Control for Cricket in India. The board has asked state associations hosting the remaining three Tests and the two T20s — starting with Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) — to prepare rank turners.
“We have asked the curators to cooperate with whatever demands the Indian captain has regarding the pitches for the Tests and T20s against England,” a BCCI official told The Indian Express. Curators of two venues confirmed that they had received instructions from the board.
At a certain level, India are justified in asking for turning tracks. Playing ‘away’ from home means battling not only the weather and crowd but also the different pitch conditions. It is because of these very factors that winning ‘away’ is always regarded as the true test of a team’s ability.
And England would have had no illusions about the treatment that they were going to get. But to blatantly ask state associations to doctor pitches is a bit too much.
If MCA officials are to be believed, Alastair Cook & Co will play on a Wankhede pitch that will probably have more bite than they can handle.
“In comparison to Motera, where the pitch was slow, the spinners will not only get a lot of turn here, they will also benefit from added bounce,” an official told Indian Express.
Mumbai has traditionally been a track that has good bounce and support for the pacemen. Of course, we have seen the odd match end in two and a half days (2004, India vs Australia) but on the whole, it has remained a good, sporting wicket.
Yesterday, Steve Waugh had come out and criticised Dhoni.
“You want to be aggressive and be the best in the world, you got to take all the conditions and not always ask for the conditions that suits your style of play. I was a bit surprised with that. I think if you are looking to be the best in the world you got to learn to play in all conditions,” said Steve Waugh.
However, Dhoni’s plan of action will surely see other team’s retaliate in kind. And that’s when the trouble for India will begin — remember what happened in New Zealand? Are they prepared for the backlash? That reality is a fair bit away from coming to fruition but it will happen.
And then, perhaps, the smile on Dhoni’s face won’t be as wide.