CHENNAI: As the dust settled – literally and metaphorically – on the outcome of the second Test at Chepauk, polarised opinions about the nature of the 22-yard track over the past four days continued to linger.
The two captains differed in their verdicts about the vigorously-debated pitch and the importance of the toss, which India won on the first day. While India skipper Virat Kohli said at the post-match presentation that the flip of the coin wasn’t very relevant during this game as the ball was turning from the outset, his England counterpart Joe Root chose to disagree.
According to Kohli, the Indian batsmen showed fantastic application on the surface and would have managed to get a favourable result even if they had lost the toss. He pointed to India’s score of 286 in their second innings on Monday to back his claim.
“The toss wouldn’t have mattered much in this game to be honest, because if you looked at our second innings, we still applied ourselves and got (almost) 300 as well. It wasn’t unfair if the toss went either way. Both teams should be in the game from the first session onwards, whether it is on spinning or seaming tracks, and that was exactly the case in this game,” Kohli reasoned.
Root, on the other hand, was clear in his view that the toss was an important one to win. At the same time, Root also conceded that they were thoroughly outplayed and need to learn from the way India batted.
“The toss was an important one to win. I don’t think it necessarily dictated which team won the game. But we would have certainly liked to bat first on this pitch. India made the most of that opportunity. We didn’t perform well enough in our first innings. We did take a cluster of wickets in the second innings. If we had been closer to their first-innings total, it might have changed the momentum of the game. Was the pitch a good one? I wouldn’t say it was a good pitch. It made for very exciting cricket. But the fact is we were outplayed by them,” the England captain reflected on the defeat.
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Root went on to add that England’s performance needs to be judged considerately since many of the players wouldn’t have faced such “extreme conditions” ever before.
“We need to be realistic. Very few players would have faced conditions like that. A number of players haven’t been to Sri Lanka or India before, never mind the extremity of these conditions,” he said.
The verbal sparring didn’t end there. R Ashwin, who took eight wickets and scored a century, countered England’s criticism of the pitch by saying that the current Indian team doesn’t complain about seaming conditions.
2nd Test: India beat England by 317 runs to level series
India thrashed England by 317 runs in the second Test to level the four-match series 1-1 at Chennai’s MA Chidambaram Stadium on Tuesday. (BCCI Photo)
“When people give their opinions, I am fine with it because we will also have our opinions when we tour abroad. But we don’t complain or crib. We just get on with it. I have never seen any of our former greats like Sunil Gavaskar talk about pitches having a lot of grass. It is about the mentality,” he said.
With two Tests remaining in this series, including the pink-ball Test in Ahmedabad – where the pitch may need a sprinkling of grass for the ball to stay visible, more disagreements about the surface may await us in the coming games.