India v England, 1st Test, Ahmedabad, 5th day November 19, 2012

Dhoni chuffed with bowlers, not groundsman

ESPNcricinfo staff

After India completed a hard-fought victory over England in Ahmedabad, MS Dhoni was full of praise for his bowlers but not for the pitch that made it hard for them to force the win.

At the post-match presentation, he also appeared to have made a comment that could be construed as a veiled attack at the umpires. "They [the bowlers] had to work really hard," Dhoni said. "Not to forget we asked them to follow on, so at a stretch our spinners bowled close to 80 and 70 overs each. Fast bowlers bowled 40 overs. Umesh, I am not really sure how many he bowled. It was hard work for them. Especially if you are expected to take more than 10 wickets to get a team out."

India spinners had several good shouts for lbw turned down. Among others, they could have had both Alastair Cook and Matt Prior, the duo who went on to make the only sizeable contributions for England, but they were also fortunate to get Samit Patel lbw in both innings. Ironically, before Patel was given out in the first innings, he had survived what looked like a plumb lbw.

Dhoni was less subtle about the groundsmen, though. Indian captains haven't often enjoyed a good working relationship with their groundsmen. Dhoni had been a regular advocate of pitches with turn and bounce, but every now and then some curator or the other dishes up a benign track that helps the spinners only with the new ball.

Yet, considering what was an eventually comfortable win, Dhoni was asked at the press conference if he had found a perfect template for a pitch to beat England. It had after all neutered England's strength, their fast bowlers. However, Dhoni didn't let the eventual result sway his assessment of the pitch.

"I don't even want to see this wicket," he said. "There wasn't enough turn and bounce for the spinners… Hopefully in the coming matches we'll see the wicket turn, right from start, or as soon as possible so that the toss doesn't become vital."

Dhoni went on to add that groundsmen need not worry about the match referee's objection to such pitches. "I don't think the match referee can question a pitch just because it's turning," he said. "When the wicket seams right from the first delivery, nobody asks questions. What you don't want is ridges in the wicket and then one ball hits your head and next your toe. At times, in the subcontinent, on pitches like this, the toss becomes vital. The only way to take the toss out of the equation is to have pitches that turn right from the start. The game may end in three-and-a-half days, but both teams will have an equal opportunity to win the game."

Given all those odds and Alastair Cook's stellar effort, Dhoni was proud of the way his bowlers stuck to the task. "It was not so easy. I can tell you that," he said. "We were on the field for two, two-and-a-half days. The bowlers had to bowl very patiently. Ojha bowled close to 82 overs, Ashwin bowled 70 overs.

"As the game progressed the pitch got slower and slower. I don't think there was much turn for them. The odd ball turned, but there wasn't enough bounce for the edge to carry to the slip fielder. It was about keeping one or two deliveries out and you were set for the game. It was the last session on the second day and first session on the third day that really shifted the game in our favour."

Dhoni was particularly impressed with the contribution of the two fast bowlers. Zaheer Khan was skilful, and Umesh Yadav quick on a surface that the England pacemen struggled to draw any assistance from. Both reversed the ball, too. "What was impressive was the fast bowlers getting six wickets," Dhoni said. "It was not an ideal track for fast bowlers to get wickets. Their contribution was as important as the spinners.

"The first innings was challenging for England as the ball was turning. After that the wicket slowed down and they got used to the pace. That's one of the main reasons why our bowlers had to battle really hard to get wickets in the second innings."

This is an updated story, including quotes given to TV and in the press conference

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Amit on November 22, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    Blaming BCCI on DRS is convenient but blatantly false, especially when not a single board raised it to vote in the last meeting. DRS in its current form is just plain wrong. Sure, Hawkeye looks good on TV but even then, there are just too many variables for it to be reliable. So, we need Snicko, Hot Spot and others to come in. Again, great for TV viewing, but not reliable in all cases. But then it was only meant for howlers. Even the technology providers say that. Inconvenient for BCCI bashers, but true. Using it for marginal calls, not deciding on where to draw the line on decision making, is where it went wrong. What technology is used should be standardized and paid for by ICC for all matches, but only if it's reliable. Till then, I am perfectly happy to accept that Umpires can have bad days and move on, rather than use an unreliable technology. For those moaning about MSD and BCCI, I suspect your world beaters just got caned. Just as ours were, last year. Just accept and move on.

  • Shireesh on November 22, 2012, 1:43 GMT

    BCCI objection to DRS isnt use of tech or decision support for umpires. There was never any issue with 3rd Umpire judging runouts, stumpings, no balls etc. Issue with DRS is prediction. Use of third umpire can still be done even in LBW - did the ball pitch outside leg? Was the moment of impact in line with stumps or not? etc. The issue lies in having a software predict how the ball was going to go. Especially when the ball hits the pad on half volley or full and low. best batsmen get fooled by how a ball moves after pitching. Position of seam, quality of surface where balls lands all make a difference to how a ball behaves after landing- tech doesnt cover all this. The howler part in lbw decisions are when given for pitching outside leg, or struck outside stumps, or an edge to pad is missed, or when ball has bounced and generated enough trajectory for us to see from side view that it would have gone over. If we can see these and know they are howlers so can 3rd ump. Just use 3rd ump.

  • kumar on November 21, 2012, 20:18 GMT

    @Fallingbostelcricket Fallingbostelcc, what did everything go in favor of India. Is it umpiring or pitch or what else? Anyway he is not frustrated with the result but because bowlers had to work very hard to win this easy match. It is not the matter of who won or lost but it is players' feelings how much effort they had to put for an easy win. It is like your family is not supporting you in pursuing your skills.

  • Dummy4 on November 21, 2012, 19:14 GMT

    Anyone questioning Dhoni should first try to understand what he is saying before making any comments. If you have played cricket at league level or have sound knowledge of the game you will understand that " Spinning track with more bounce will also favor fast bowlers". Its understood but not explicitly stated. All those who question Dhoni about how much more spin is needed do not know a bit about cricket and spin bowling. even a square turner slow and low is far easy to bat than one that has a good bounce and a decent spin. Bounce will provide a fair contest to both teams bowling assets and also will even the advantage gained by toss. There is no unfair advantage and makes for an even contest. All he is saying is give us a track that supports our strength and not take anything away from Englands strength. Seam bowling is not the only asset of a fast bowler, what happened to reverse swing, leg cutters, off cutters varying lengths, delivery angle and using the crease.

  • Mohsin on November 21, 2012, 18:05 GMT

    On bashing curators, MSD shd hav realised that this was a relaid pitch. Even the curators couldn't predict how it will play as it was the 1st match on it. Blame ur bosses again. MSD himself shd take lessons in geology to comment on a pitch. On one hand, he wants bounce and turn for spinners from day 1 and on other hand does not want to give the opposition pace bowlers an advantage. U get bounce only if the surface is hard. For that u need grass on the pitch to hold up the surface thus making it hard. When u have grass u have bounce for fast bowlers as well. So checkmate. With sun beating down in SC conditons, u will always see slow and low track unless ther is grass. If he wants a dustbowl I think indian batters will be in trouble bcoz our batters are good vs mediocre spin and Swann is better than ojha and ashwin. So checkmate again. Instead MSD shd move on and just applaud ojha for good bowling and play on our traditional low and slow tracks which negates english quicks and even Swann

  • Mohsin on November 21, 2012, 17:50 GMT

    MSD is the most ungracious captains India has produced. You never see applauding good performances by opposition players or good umpiring in a match. It s so disgusting to see him whinge in defeat and victory. He has the audacity to take on the umpires and curators even when his own performance in the match was dismal. ICC should take some strong action on such blatant and repeated attacks on umpires. Decisions in cricket are to be taken in split second. Human reflexes and eye has some limitations. Stop blaming them for wrong lbws when you oppose drs. You can only comment if the lbw decisions were wrong only after replays which u, srt and ur bcci bosses so strongly oppose to give the umpires. If u think ur eye and reflexes are that great you should have been avging 100 while batting and shd never had dropped catches and conceded byes

  • vikram on November 21, 2012, 14:24 GMT

    Most important part of the article "Dhoni went on to add that groundsmen need not worry about the match referee's objection to such pitches. "I don't think the match referee can question a pitch just because it's turning," he said. "WHEN THE WICKET SEAMS RIGHT FROM THE FIRST DELIVERY, NOBODY ASKS QUESTIONS. What you don't want is ridges in the wicket and then one ball hits your head and next your toe. At times, in the subcontinent, on pitches like this, the toss becomes vital. The only way to take the toss out of the equation is to have pitches that turn right from the start. The game may end in three-and-a-half days, but both teams will have an equal opportunity to win the game."

  • Krishna on November 21, 2012, 14:00 GMT

    Dhoni is spot on.Why in the world should we prepare wickets that assist seam bowlers? Our strength is spin, we should play to our strengths - it is as simple as that. Just as our batsmen are called 'flat track bullies', their batsmen need to be called "spin trach rabbits". Ideally, we should prepare seaming wickets for our Ranji and Duleep trophy matches.That will preepare the batters for the tough tests aborad. Before a tour to SA or OZ, the test team can participate in these matches like Tendulkar and Sehwag did, to acclimatise themselves to these pitches. However, the test match pitches have to be rank turners like Dhoni has sugegsted. The day England or Australia prepare turners, we can prepare seaming pitches.

  • Dummy4 on November 21, 2012, 13:10 GMT

    What was wrong with Dhoni, was his performance; both behind the stumps and in front. Not, in what he said. Hang a man for his crime and NOT for telling a few truths!

  • Dummy4 on November 21, 2012, 12:58 GMT

    Some time Captains hesitate to enforce the follow-on, since the bowlers have to take "more than 10 wickets" -- in fact 20 wickets! If circumstances force you to enforce it, to improve the chances of a win, and in that process, if key bowlers have to bowl 70-80 overs, it is hard work on ANY surface. If a Captain mentions that, it is just a statement of fact, and an indirect way of appreciating the efforts of his bowlers in public. What is wrong in that? Where is the criticism of the umpires in that (Of course, umpires make it more than 20 -- around 25 or so, in my count). Again, if he asks for pitches, where toss will not be a decisive factor, and giving equal chance to both teams, what is wrong in that? Most of the Indian pitches, which play low & slow, give an unfair advantage to batsmen. So, asking for one where both batsmen & bowlers can display & exploit their skills, what is wrong in that? In the whole process, if viewers enjoy test cricket better, what is wrong in that?

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