Kolkata: The quality of the wicket at the renamed Narendra Modi Stadium, where the India-England Test match ended inside two days on Thursday, continued to polarise opinions after the hosts wrapped it up by 10 wickets to go up 2-1 in the series.
While the Indian captain Virat Kohli and senior batsman Rohit Sharma said that the pitch did not hold any devils and blamed their own batsmen for failing to stand upto it, the England camp were guarded than Chennai in their observation of what looked like an underprepared wicket. The hosts, after their resuming their first innings at 99 for three on Thursday, folded up for 145 but then went on to skittle England for a paltry 81.
“A week like this doesn’t define us as a team,” England captain Joe Root said after their second successive defeat dashed their hopes of making the final of the inaugural World Test Championship in June. England has dropped to 64.1 percentage points on the points table, which is now led by India with 71 percentage points. New Zealand is assured of a place in the final with 70 percentage points.
“We know what we’re capable of doing and we’ll come back and use the hurt of this week as motivation going into that last game.” Root was particularly upset how England threw away a decent start in the first innings after winning a crucial toss.
“Having won the toss and batted first, we felt like we got ourselves in a pretty good position there and we just didn’t capitalise on it,” Root said.
Kevin Pietersen, former England captain and now a TV pundit, wanted their batsmen to do some introspection than just lay the blame on the wicket. “I hope there are some England batters waking up this morning and being honest with themselves at least, by acknowledging their batting was dreadful on that wicket?! I’ve heard Virat & Rohit say theirs was!” Pietersen tweeted.
England great Geoffrey Boycott, not the one to pull back any punches, agreed that his country could not blame the pitch for their humiliating defeat. “There is nothing in the rules that says what type of pitch should be prepared,” Boycott wrote on Twitter. “We had first choice of the surface and they were better than us. Simple.”
However, a few former players felt it was a bad advertisement for Test cricket. “Finished in two days. Not sure if that’s good for test cricket,” tweeted former India batsman Yuvraj Singh.
Former England skipper Michael Vaughan expressed fears for cricket’s crucial broadcasting revenues. “My worry for the future of Test match cricket is that Channel 4 would have bid an amount of money to put Test match cricket on the station for us all to see,” he told BBC.
“Will they bid the next time? Knowing they only got three days last week and two days this week. So that’s five days out of 10.”
Kohli had pointed out that most of the batsmen fell to deliveries that did not turn. “It was bizarre that out of the 30 wickets, 21 were off straight balls,” he said.
“I feel that’s just lapse of concentration or indecision or too many things going on in your head as a batter when you are playing for the turn but getting beaten on the inside,’’ he felt.
Shortest Test matches
All 13 matches were completed in two days
1912 - Australia beat South Africa by an innings and 88 runs in Manchester
1912 - England beat South Africa by 10 wickets in London
1921 - Australia beat England by 10 wickets in Nottingham
1931 - Australia beat West Indies by an innings and 122 runs in Melbourne
1936 - Australia beat South Africa by an innings and 184 runs in Johannesburg
1946 - Australia beat New Zealand by an innings and 103 runs in Wellington
2000 - England beat West Indies by an innings and 39 runs in Leeds
2002 - Australia beat Pakistan by an innings and 198 runs in Sharjah
2005 - South Africa beat Zimbabwe by an innings and 21 runs in Cape Town
2005 - New Zealand beat Zimbabwe by an innings and 294 runs in Harare
2017 - South Africa beat Zimbabwe by an innings and 120 runs in Port Elizabeth
2018 - India beat Afghanistan by an innings and 262 runs in Bengaluru
2021 - India beat England by 10 wickets in Ahmedabad