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Kohli slams 'one-sided' criticism of spinning pitches

By Dom Farrell

Ahmedabad, March 3: India captain Virat Kohli has criticised the "narrative" around spinning pitches ahead of the fourth and final Test against England.

The hosts hold a 2-1 lead in the series going into the match, having bounced back from a heavy opening defeat inspired by Joe Root's double century to record wins of their own in Chennai and Ahmedabad.

During the latter two encounters, India spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel found prodigious turn, with the third Test over inside two days as England were dismissed for 112 and 81.

India's 145 all out was perhaps the most eyebrow raising score though, as Kohli's opposite number Root claimed 5-8 with his part-time off-spin.

Nevertheless, Kohli insists the scrutiny given to playing surfaces that offer early assistance to spin bowlers is disproportionate when set against those where seamers enjoy an advantage.

"I totally believe that there's always too much noise and conversation about spinning tracks," he said.

"Unfortunately, everyone sort of plays along with that narrative and keeps making it news.

"If a Test match happens and we win on day four or day five, no one says anything. If a match finishes in two days everyone pounces on the same issue.

"It has always been the case that spinning tracks come into focus way more. When the ball seams on a particular pitch and teams get bundled out for 40, 50 or 60, no one writes about the pitch. It's always about bad batting.

"I think we need to be very honest with ourselves. What space are we talking from and what is the idea behind continuing this narrative? What purpose does it serve people who keep coming this conversation, which is quite one-sided?"

Bad batting was a huge part of the problem last time out according to Kohli.

The teams reconvene at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday for a traditional red-ball Test, with questions also having been posed over how easy it was to pick the pink ball used in the day-nighter.

"I don't understand why a cricket ball or a cricket pitch, all these things are brought into focus," Kohli countered.

"Why don't we focus on the fact that the batsmen were just not skilled enough on that pitch to play properly.

"It was a bizarre display of batting by both teams. I will continue to maintain that, because I've played this game long enough to understand what happens on the cricket field.

"It's not a change in ball colour. It's still round, it still weights five-and-a-half ounces. I don't know what difference it makes suddenly."

If India avoid defeat, they will secure a place in the ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand at Lord's later this year. However, a victory for England would see their Ashes rivals Australia sneak into the inaugural showpiece.

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Story first published: Wednesday, March 3, 2021, 21:30 [IST]
Other articles published on Mar 3, 2021