England in India 2012-13 October 27, 2012

Turning tracks for England Tests not unfair - Kohli

ESPNcricinfo staff

In wake of the criticism leveled at India over the absence of spinners in the A-team squad that will play England in a warm-up game, batsman Virat Kohli has said there would be nothing unfair with making England play on spinner-friendly pitches in the Tests. On India's tour to England and Australia last year, he said, the conditions during the warm-up games and those in the Test matches were vastly different, which was not 'fair' to India.

"Why not [turning pitches]? We were given flattest of tracks during practice matches in England and Australia and then suddenly presented with a green-top during the Tests," Kohli told PTI. "During practice matches, we would face those 120kmph bowlers … If they [England and Australia] wanted to be fair to us, they could have provided us with same kind of tracks for practice matches, like what were used in Tests.

"Especially, when they knew that visiting teams get very less time to practice. Now they would be playing on turning tracks and definitely would know where they stand."

The tour of India marks the return of Kevin Pietersen to the England side, after a 10-week stand-off with the team. Kohli said he will be under a lot of pressure to perform, especially taking into account England's traditional struggles against spin.

"There will be huge pressure on KP as he has been playing in India for quite some time and considered to be a good batsman against spin.

"You may say that the senior England cricketers have an understanding of these conditions but let me tell you, it's not that easy. You might feel they would like to hit spinners but end up doing exactly opposite."

He pointed to England's tour of the UAE, where they were whitewashed 3-0 by Pakistan in the Tests, as an example of England's continuing issues with spin. "That particular series, there wasn't much turn on offer but England couldn't negotiate one quality spinner [Saeed Ajmal]; they lost the battle in their heads."

Kohli also defended his team-mates, saying the talk about them being poor against short-pitched bowling did not make sense. "I have never really understood this theory. Are people like Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Sehwag poor players of short-pitched bowling? Show me how many Indian players were out to short-pitched deliveries in Australia?

"No batsman in world cricket is comfortable against a good bouncer. If you get a good bouncer, give credit to the bowler rather than finding chinks in batsman's armoury."

Similarly, he backed MS Dhoni and Duncan Fletcher, saying any criticism directed at them for India's recent poor overseas form was unfounded. "Under him [Dhoni], we have won the World Cup, been No. 1 in Tests ... He has also encouraged the juniors."

"Duncan is also a thorough professional. He would quietly stand in one corner and observe. If he needs to say something, he would come up and give a suggestion. He believes international cricketers know their jobs. If we have lost eight Test matches, blame us and not the coach."