India v West Indies, 3rd Test, Mumbai, 5th day November 26, 2011

I want pitches to turn from first day - Dhoni

N Hunter

After a stirring final day's play in Mumbai during which 17 wickets fell, 14 of which were bagged by spinners from both sides, India captain MS Dhoni has asked for Test pitches across the country that will take the kind of turn witnessed today at the Wankhede right from day one. Such pitches, he said, could only ensure better quality contests and make the toss less relevant.

"What I would like to see [in Tests in India], played out on fifth-day wicket [in Mumbai]; I want the pitches to turn from the very first day," Dhoni said, expressing surprise at the ample turn and bounce offered on the final day. "It sets off a bit of panic in the opposition's dressing room and, at the same time, you [India] are under pressure to perform as well. That what makes it interesting."

In contrast to the first four days when 1153 runs were scored for the fall of 22 wickets, the final day's play witnessed the same ebb and flow all great Test matches became memorable for. A combination of expert spin bowling from Pragyan Ojha and R Ashwin and senseless batting from West Indies' middle order resulted in a collapse in which eight wickets went down for just 53 runs. A target of 243 from a maximum of 64 overs was never out of reach for India, especially with Virender Sehwag in the ranks.

Sehwag, aided by three lives, set the tempo and by the time he departed India were in a comfortable position. However, with the pitch taking ample turn, Marlon Samuels bowled his off breaks in a marathon 25-over spell from the North Stand end, while Devendra Bishoo bowled tight lines from the Pavilion End, hardly giving any free hits. Subsequently, from a position of authority, India were forced to concede control to the visitors, who kept their wits intact all through. Off the final over, India needed three runs, West Indies two wickets. Eventually India got two runs off a fabulous Fidel Edwards over, in which he stuck to a straight line.

"Frankly, I really don't what happened [to the pitch]. It started to turn in the morning," Dhoni said. "Till yesterday, everything was fine. It was among the flattest of wickets. Something happened in the morning and it started to turn. Most people thought it will be a draw, but it turned into a close game."

On flat pitches, like the ones on offer in Delhi and Kolkata, and for the first four days at the Wankhede, a team that loses the toss cannot do much to run through the opposition, Dhoni said. "I think if you see the first three or four days [in Mumbai], losing the toss doesn't really help. I don't know when was the last time we played on a wicket that was really turning square [from day one].

"The last time [it came close to an outright turner] was when we played at CCI [Brabourne Stadium, against Sri Lanka in 2009]. Then it was turning, but that was in the morning session. There was bounce also for the spinners, but as the game progressed there was not much even there. I am hoping that we [Indian grounds] stick to our kind of wickets that turn from the first day, which doesn't make the toss very important."

Darren Sammy, West Indies' captain, said he was not as surprised by the different nature of the pitch today. "It did bounce and turn more than on all the previous four days, but it was nothing that we shouldn't have been able to handle," Sammy said.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • gurvinder on November 29, 2011, 23:17 GMT

    Will Australia, New Zealand England South Africa prepare pitches which does not suites them while playing India? Most of us will answer no they will prepare pitches which suites the home team. And it should be, so home team should have home ground advantage and this provides different challenges for visiting team. In this regard dhoni comments is appropriate. Pitches with bounces and grass and sporting wickets should be prepared from grass root level and domestics competition rather in internatinal matches.

  • Srinivas on November 29, 2011, 14:53 GMT

    @Krishna Darooka, compare the similarities between our posts. So read my post now - If pitches seam, swing, bounce, ball raring for the head, chest and neck from the first day then matches will finish in 1-2 days . Cronje, Graeme Smith, Strauss, Michael Clarke, Ponting, Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor are captains or a monsters? Are Tremlett, Steyn, Allan Donald, Imran, Thompson, Lillee, Rookie Cummins, Marshall, Sarfaraz, Garner, Holding, Roberts, Zaheer, Akram, Broad, Waqar, Hadlee, Kapil, McDermott, Anderson, Morne players or monsters, always wanting such seaming, swinging and bouncing fast tracks? That idea will be the best to convert 5 days to 1-2 days tests if the pitches seam, swing, bounce and try to physically hurt the batsmen from first day. Also, we won't need spin bowlers, especially finger spinners. May be we won't need captain too!

  • Dummy4 on November 29, 2011, 4:40 GMT

    if pitches turn from the first day then matches will finish in 1-2 days . Is Dhoni a captain or a monster?

    That idea will be the best to convert 5 days to 1-2 days tests if the pitches spin from first days Also we won't need fast bowlers May be we won't need captain too

  • Srinivas on November 28, 2011, 21:43 GMT

    @Full-Blooded-Wallop, thanks bro. Big up to you too. :)

  • Nitin on November 28, 2011, 20:38 GMT

    @dravid_gravitas: But I have surely become your fan :)

  • Mustafa on November 28, 2011, 19:58 GMT

    Be careful with what you wish for.

  • Srinivas on November 28, 2011, 15:38 GMT

    Dear fellow Indians, what all Dhoni is asking for is to provide with blatant spinning tracks for INTERNATIONAL MATCHES. He didn't say a SINGLE WORD about the tracks that our players get to PRACTICE on on a day to day basis. So, please stop your loose associations that providing spinning tracks for INTERNATIONAL MATCHES is what is causing us to LOSE overseas. Plain braindead associations. Go to Dharamshala and prepare 50 tracks that mimic England. Go to Mohali and surrounding areas to prepare tracks that mimic SA/Aus. Go to all the major cities/small towns and prepare 25 tracks each that mimic overseas tracks. Install speed guns for those tracks to pump up the pacers, if you will. Money doesn't add value just because you have it in your pocket, but because you can spend it. So, get on to BCCI's throat instead of dishing out braindead comments on Dhoni. BTW, I'm no Dhoni fan, but soon will become one if he continues to say that spinning tracks are sporting tracks. Jai Dhoni!

  • karthik on November 28, 2011, 13:06 GMT

    Dhoni's comments are valid. All home teams make pitches to suit them.

  • Dummy4 on November 28, 2011, 12:00 GMT

    This is why India will fail outside the subcontinent. Dhoni continues to be another thoughtless limb of the BCCI and proves their long term plan is one of insolence.

  • Yasir on November 28, 2011, 11:35 GMT

    @nikhilshahb ... you already wrote what I wanted to say... agree with you 100 percent...

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