“I don’t even want to see this wicket"
—India skipper MS Dhoni, after winning the first Test in Ahmedabad by nine wickets
“I think this was a very good wicket. In India or [anywhere] in [the] subcontinent, the matches should happen on these kind of wickets...”
—Dhoni, after losing the second Test in Mumbai by 10 wickets
Sudhir Sakharam Naik didn’t say it in as many words, but the Wankhede curator was obviously ‘advised’ to prepare a rank turner. The 67-year-old former India opener, who played three Tests and two ODIs, sure did a splendid job with the 22-yard strip. Splendid is also the adjective one could use to describe the visitors’ performance.
“England outplayed India in all three departments of the game,” Naik said as a matter of fact. “Mumbai has been a happy hunting ground for them; they won here in 2006 too,” he recalled. That pitch, though, was nothing like this one. “In that game, the ball had started turning only on Day Four. Here, you know what happened,” Naik added.
So where did India go wrong? “They did everything wrong. Barring (Cheteshwar) Pujara, none of our batsmen looked like scoring runs. Also, look at the way our spinners bowled. They should have bowled quicker through the air. That’s what Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann did and that’s the reason England won,” Naik reasoned.
He wasn’t done. “There is nothing wrong in asking for turners. But you must also prepare (for the match) accordingly. Look at England. They did their homework, executed their plans, won the Test and levelled the series,” Naik said.
When told that Dhoni was indeed happy with the Wankhede track and termed it result-oriented, Naik accepted the compliment. He also had some consoling words for the skipper. “The Kolkata pitch is not as bouncy as this one. Monty Panesar won’t be as effective there. In Mumbai, we use red soil; in Kolkata, it’s black soil. That’s the kind of pitch our spinners prefer. They bowl slower through the air. India will go into the third Test knowing that the conditions will be to their liking. I wish them luck,” he signed off.
Interestingly, Dhoni said he would want a turner in Kolkata too. Over to the Eden Gardens.