'Talk of the pitch is BORING me!' India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin hits back at criticism of Ahmedabad wicket after England's 10-wicket humiliation in the third Test
Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has hit back at criticism of the Ahmedabad surface on which England crashed to defeat in the third Test, insisting the carping has got ‘out of hand’.
Ashwin had match figures of seven for 74, and slow left-armer Axar Patel 11 for 70, as Joe Root’s side were bundled out for 112 and 81 to lose inside two days.
A dusty pitch on which one ball turned lavishly and the next went straight on prompted several ex-players — mainly English, although also former India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh — to question whether it was fit for purpose.
And while Ashwin, who took his 400th Test wicket as India moved into a 2-1 lead going into Thursday’s fourth and final game back at Ahmedabad’s Motera Stadium, admitted it was a tough game for batsmen, he said he had grown fed up of the unique scrutiny he believes Indian conditions attract.
‘The bowler was in the game, and the batsman needed to bat well to get runs,’ he said. ‘What is a good surface? Who defines this? Seam on the first day, then bat well, then spin on the last two days? Come on, who makes these rules? We need to get over this, and not talk about whatever picture you’re trying to create.
‘Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the fact remains that talk around the surface is getting out of hand. Why would you talk about the surface time and again? Has there been any instance where the surface has been spoken about in any other country?
‘I find it very funny that when they speak about the surface, it is immediately quoted all over [the Indian] press. When we went to New Zealand, two Test matches were over in a total of five days — nobody quoted it.
‘Virat [Kohli] in South Africa said he was not there to talk about the pitch, or comfort his boys with regards to that. That’s how we’re taught to play cricket. I don’t know why we indulge such thoughts.’
India need only a draw from the last Test to qualify for the final of the World Test Championship against New Zealand in June. Asked whether he hoped the Ahmedabad groundstaff would serve up a similar pitch this week, Ashwin replied: ‘We hope for a good cricket match. That’s what you should be hoping for — not talking about the surface.’
The hosts will be without new-ball bowler Jasprit Bumrah for the series finale. He was released from their squad for personal reasons.
Like every other seamer in the third Test, Bumrah was little more than a bystander, bowling only six overs all match. Fast bowlers Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Siraj, as well as all-rounder Hardik Pandya, are all in contention to replace him.