The debates surrounding the nature of the pitch dominated the narrative in reviews of the third Test between India and England at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. The Test, which ended within two days, drew eyeballs for the wicket’s significant assistance to the spinners, resulting in England collapsing on 112 and 81 in the first and second innings respectively.
India won the game by 10 wickets.
Many former England cricketers have voiced their criticism of the pitch, while a host of current and former Indian cricketers have insisted that the pitch was far from unplayable, adding that the Indian team was better than their English counterparts in the game.
In an exclusive interview with India TV, former Indian cricketer Pragyan Ojha reiterated that it is important for a cricketer to be “prepared” for every surface and condition.
“Test cricket means the ultimate test of batsmen and bowlers on every surface. If you perform on every surface under every condition, you become a complete cricketer. That is why Test cricket is the highest level in the sport,” Ojha told India TV.
“If you go to SENA countries, you don’t get turning track, you get seaming tracks. You have to negotiate with seamers. Similarly, when you come to the subcontinent, you get turning tracks, and you will have to adjust with them too. If you don’t adjust well, you can’t become a complete cricketer.
“The home and away advantage are there for this reason. When we beat Australia in Australia, we received so much praise because we beat them at their home, despite losing many of our first-choice players. Thus, every team has to be prepared for every condition.”
Ojha believes that terming the pitch “unplayable” is an excuse to hide the technical flaws in the game.
“How does the wicket become unplayable simply because it assisted spinners? Every country will prepare wickets according to its strength. The wicket was same for both the teams and England even won the toss. They were going strong in the first session but then they collapsed. So they need to improve their game,” the former Indian bowler, who represented India in 24 Tests, said.
“When we used to go to Perth, we could see huge cracks on the pitch as the game went on, and the ball could deflect to anywhere off them. No one then said that it was a bad pitch. Such things are only said when teams play in India and wickets start to turn. I don’t agree with experts saying that the pitch was unplayable.”
Talking about the Indian cricket team, Ojha said that it is a “special time” for Virat Kohli‘s side. “I would obviously want India to win the fourth Test. This is a special time in Indian cricket and I want them to qualify for the WTC final and put forward a solid display against New Zealand,” said Ojha.
Ojha is among a host of former Indian cricketers who are set to return to action in the Road Safety World Series, which include the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh, among others. The bowler said that he is “excited for the reunion” with the players.
“We will begin bowling practice soon. I’m very excited for the reunion with so many legends with whom I began my Indian cricket career,” said Ojha.
“We are in the bio-secure bubble. This time of COVID-19 is very similar to the concept of road safety as we need to be careful of ourselves and for others. Hopefully, this tournament is successful.”
He further talked about the importance of road safety in the country.
“It feels good to see that the awareness towards wearing helmet and seatbelts is increasing. The government is also doing a good job in spreading awareness for the same,” said Ojha.
“I consider Road safety important because little carelessness can lead to disastrous circumstances.”
(As told to India TV Sports Correspondent Vaibhav Bhola)