Ahmedabad: After the debacle show by Joe Root and company in their first match at the newly-renovated Motera stadium here, it has been the spin-friendly track which has been making most of the noise, forgetting the fact, that the English batsmen have failed to apply themselves to the conditions.
The pink-ball encounter has sunk the England side to the lowest and everyone English pundits of the game have come down heavily on the wicket which saw spinner claiming 28 of the 30 wickets fell in the two-day Test match.
But, the fact remains, the batsmen have failed to apply themselves, and Virat Kohli has rightly opened the issue saying that the less one talks about the track would be better, and play the game according to the conditions.
Stop the noise, tighten up that defence and get on with the game, a combative Indian skipper, ahead of the fourth and final Test against England as he navigated persistent queries on the spin-friendly tracks in the country.
“There is always too much noise and too much conversation about spin tacks,” Kohli said at the pre-match press conference ahead of the fourth and final Test starting here on Thursday.
“I am sure if our media is in a space to contradict those views or present views which say that it is unfair to criticise only spin tracks, then it will be a balanced conversation.”
Kohli, at the end of the third Test, had blamed the batsmen’s technique for their failure on the Motera track.
“But the unfortunate bit is everyone plays along with that narrative (spinning tracks) and keeps making it news till the time it is relevant. And then a Test match happens, if you win on day 4 or 5, no one says anything but if it finishes in two days, everyone pounces on the same issue,” he said.
When asked what he thought were the skills required to survive on such challenging spin tracks, Kohli emphasised having a solid defence, which, he believes, is not the strongest anymore thanks to shorter formats.
“Defence is imperative. Because of the influence of white-ball cricket, Test cricket is witnessing consistent results but it is just a by-product in reference to batting that the defence part of the batting is being compromised,” he said.
“That grind of playing four-five sessions is not the focus these days and everybody wants to put on 300-350 runs on the board quickly. Probably people are not focussing on defence, they have to switch to other formats, so the game is fast-paced.
“So definitely the skill is required and it’s not just the sweep shot. For me it’s defence. This aspect of batting has gone back a bit.”
Kohli cited one of India’s losses in New Zealand when the team struggled on a seaming pitch. He recalled how it was the batsmen’s technique, and not the track, that came in for scrutiny.
Kohli said his team has been successful over a while for adapting to conditions instead of complaining about them.
“The reason for our success is that we have not cribbed about any pitch we have played on and we will continue to play like that.
“We all need to be honest with ourselves what is the idea behind continuing this narrative and what purpose it serves people who keep continuing the conversation which is one-sided,” he said.
“I don’t understand why a ball or a pitch, all these things are brought into focus why don’t we focus on the fact that batsmen were not skilled enough to play on that pitch properly. It was a bizarre display of batting by both teams.
Kohli was also asked if it is good for the game, from a global fans’ perspective, to take undue advantage of home conditions.
“I would love if you ask this question to England, New Zealand and Australia. This question is irrelevant to me at this point of time.”