Dhoni laments lack of turn and bounce
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been a strong advocate of spin-friendly pitches to exploit visiting teams’ discomfort against the turning ball.
Despite scoring a nine-wicket win over England to take a 1-0 lead in the series, Dhoni lamented that there wasn’t enough turn and bounce for his tweakers at Motera. “I don’t even want to see this wicket. There wasn’t enough turn and bounce for the spinners,” Dhoni stated emphatically in the post-match press-do here on Monday.
Then he went on to detail the struggles of R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha, his frontline spinners. “I can tell you it wasn’t easy. We were on the field for two-and-a-half days. The bowlers had to bowl very patiently. Ojha bowled close to 80 overs, and Ashwin bowled 70 overs.
“As the game progressed, the pitch got slower and slower. The odd ball turned but there wasn’t enough bounce for the edge to carry to the slip fielder. It was about keeping one or two deliveries out, and you were set for the game. It was the last session on the second day and first session on the third day that really shifted the game in our favour,” the skipper said.
It is quite easy to interpret Dhoni’s words as a desire for under-prepared pitches, something akin to the track for the third Test between India and South Africa at Kanpur in 2008. But the Jharkhandi made it clear that such pitches were not his intention.
“I don’t think the match referee can question a pitch just because it’s turning from the beginning. When the wicket seams right from the first delivery, nobody asks questions,” began Dhoni before explaining his stand against doctored pitches. “What you don’t want is ridges in the wicket and then one ball hits your head and next your toe.”
Dhoni also emphasised that spin-friendly tracks can take toss out of the equation. “At times, in the subcontinent, on pitches like this, the toss becomes vital. The only way to take the toss out of the equation is to have pitches that turn from the start. The game may end in three-and-a-half or four days, but both teams will have an equal opportunity to win the game,” he said.
“Hopefully, in the coming matches we’ll see the wicket turn, right from start, or as soon as possible so that the toss doesn’t become vital,” he added.
Dhoni also lauded pacers Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav for fetching the team crucial breakthroughs during the periods when spinners couldn’t do much. “Our fast bowlers bowled really well. Zaheer put in a lot of effort, we’ve seen Umesh improving, and he’s bowling quick. The contribution of the fast bowlers was really important. They gave us the breakthrough when it was really needed,” said Dhoni.
The skipper said patience was the key when Alastair Cook and Matt Prior were building a huge partnership. “The important thing was to open up at least one end so that we could create a sense of panic. There was not much happening, but you can play around with the field and force batsmen to commit a mistake,” said Dhoni.