Tamil Nadu v Rajasthan, Ranji Trophy final, Chennai January 24, 2012

Karthik disappointed with pitch for Ranji final


Dinesh Karthik, the lone centurion for Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy final, has blamed the Chepauk pitch for spoiling his team's chances of winning the title. The pitch became the focal point of the debate after Rajasthan amassed 621 runs across the first three days, taking advantage of a surface that was devoid of any bounce or pace. Though the game was drawn, Rajasthan took the title on first-innings points.

The Rajasthan opening pair of Vineet Saxena and Aakash Chopra remained unconquered on a tedious first day when only 221 runs were scored.

"To some extent, yes," Karthik said, when asked if he would blame the pitch for Tamil Nadu finishing as runners-up. "Because after playing eight quality games you come up for the final only to realise it is going to be so toss-based. Any game for that matter should not be toss-based. There should be a pitch for both batsmen and bowlers. That is the key to sport, a contest." Karthik's previous century in a Ranji final came when Tamil Nadu played Mumbai at the same venue in the 2003-04 season.

Incidentally the pitch for the final was the same surface Tamil Nadu had played Madhya Pradesh (group game) and Maharashtra (quarter-finals). In both those games, Tamil Nadu managed to bowl out the opposition at least once, but in the final they were made to toil fruitlessly. The fears of a weary pitch were realised completely: if the lack of pace on the dry pitch kept the fast bowlers parched, the spinners were hurt by the lack of bounce.

Describing the pitch, Karthik said it was initially slow to start on day one and the cracks started getting wider over the subsequent days. "It is a little annoying to bat on (after day 3) you cannot play freely. If you are a positive player, there are not many shots you can play because you are not going to get value for your shots. That is why the run rate remained consistent at 2 to 2.2 types."

On the penultimate day, the pitch had become extremely slow. Still, Karthik's century was the best innings in terms of strokeplay. It did not come easy, Karthik stressed. "It was far more difficult to bat than on what it was at the start of the match. The wicket was slow throughout the game but it became slower from the third day and the odd ball was keeping low and the cracks were opening."

Karthik failed to understand why such an important match could not be hosted on a better pitch, which would have retained the balance between bat and ball. He even cited the examples of venues like Mumbai and Baroda being fit to host the domestic season's most important match. "I am disappointed at the fact that we cannot play on a wicket like a Wankhede or Baroda (Moti Bagh) wickets which are conducive to both batting and bowling. The scoreline would have been much more different."

However, Karthik credited the Rajasthan bowlers for maintaining accurate lines and the batsmen for their admirable patience. Tamil Nadu suffered a setback as soon as they started their innings after the new ball pair of Rituraj Singh and Pankaj Singh sent back their top order by bowling fast and keeping the length full. Being in the field for the first eight sessions had affected the hosts' batsmen mentally and physically.

"It is very easy for me to say that the Rajasthan bowlers bowled well and they definitely did that. But there is no doubting the fact they had a cushion of 620 runs," Karthik said. "And they bowled to their strengths, bowling in straight lines consistently."

At the same time the, Karthik did not blame his own bowlers for failing to stall the opposition. "Our bowlers did a fantastic job throughout the season but this was the game where the Rajasthan batsmen applied themselves and the wicket was very good to bat on (on the first two days) and they did not make any mistake at all."

Karthik appreciated Saxena's relaxed demeanour throughout his marathon knock of 257, spread across 907 minutes. "It is very difficult to concentrate for such long periods of time without making a mistake and that was fantastic. Nor did he play a false stroke."

Comparatively, Tamil Nadu were hurt by the lack of partnerships: if Rajasthan had one double-century and two century partnerships, the highest for the hosts was the 76-run alliance between Karthik and R Prasanna for the fourth wicket. "To put it simply, there were about fifteen sessions in the game and they won all fifteen whether it be batting and bowling. Their lowest partnership must have been close to a hundred. We could not even get one hundred partnership and they had a double-hundred partnership. That is how good they were."

Despite failing to win the title once again, Karthik said there was no need for any drastic measures. In fact, he said the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association had supported the players by retaining the group across the last few years. If anything, he said Tamil Nadu should be proud. "In all honesty, to finish No.2 is nothing to be ashamed about. It was a proud achievement the way we have played our cricket. It was the only game in the entire Ranji Trophy we had lost and it says a lot about this team."

Karthik said the bowling attack, led by L Balaji was a big improvement over the previous years. However, he picked one area of improvement. "I would love to see a pool of spinners to choose from. At the moment I see four spinners - two left-armers and two off spinners - (so) I would like see a leg spinner who can come and help us."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Raj on January 25, 2012, 19:59 GMT

    Then, you teams play again in neutral venue and let see who wins. I am sure TN has upper hand with batting, and don't forget Rajasthan has quality bowler like Balaji.

    DK should be given chance in Test & ODI in middle order. He was competing middle order place with Kohli, Raina, Rohit few years back. He was very open and said that publicly - Dhoni playing well as a keeper & batsman, so he is not competing for WK place. Having said that, people tried him in opener slot and made him to fail. Now he is out of contest. But he is coming back. Good for indian cricket.

  • TR on January 25, 2012, 19:05 GMT

    After seeing DKarthik for years and Saha in the current Ind-Aus 4th test, I think Indian team should have both Karthik (primary) and Saha (backup) keeper. Dkarthik has the edge only because of his better batting skill and proven aggressive captaincy & sensible head. Keeping skill-wise I feel Saha is slightly superior based on his bundle of energy. I dont consider Dhoni or Parthiv Patel as any world class keepers at all. IMO, the player should perform his primary role very well. When we compare keepers, compare mainly the keeping skills. Dhoni drops at least one catch per test match.

  • Dummy4 on January 25, 2012, 16:11 GMT

    To add to TRAM's suggestion, can we have a domestic tournament where a batsman will be given out as soon as he fails to move his legs when playing a delivery. I am sure the carrot and stick(sans carrot) method will improve footwork of Indian Cricket players

  • Senthil on January 25, 2012, 14:54 GMT

    Karthick has got better in his role as lower order batsman and finisher. It is a shame that he was wasted in Tests/ODIs as an opener. He is one of the best keepers around in domestic circuit.

  • Dummy4 on January 25, 2012, 14:35 GMT

    Here I Want to Say That Rajasthan Won the Title But They Had a Negative Approach.....Why They Did't Givent Follow-On To TN?? If They Did That Then NO One Can Claim on Rajasthan Win.....I Would Like To Suggest Criteria for Winner: If a Team Can Gain 200+ Lead(Follow-On) then that team will be Winner otherwise both team will share the Title....

  • PRABAKAR on January 25, 2012, 14:07 GMT

    @MandarSathe and sramesh_74 - When there's something in the pitch for the bowlers, there would not have been any necessity for the bowling team to be in the field for nearly 3 days - to come on after that, knowing fully well that the match is definitely a draw and would be decided based on the first innings score is in itself a demoralising thing for the team about to bat next. And nowhere did Kathik mention that Rajasthan were not the deserving winners.To come back from the brink of elimination to win the trophy is true champion stuff ! But there is a possibility that had the toss gone in TN's favour, and if they went about with the same goal as that of the Rajasthan's top order (score at 2 rpo and win based on first innings lead), then they too might have put a 600+ score too on this track. In fact,going forward, I guess most people here would prefer to have a track like the one in the semifinals (Har vs Raj one) rather than one like the MAC track in a big final.

  • Mandar on January 25, 2012, 11:10 GMT

    Just this mind set from this karthik's comments shows TN didn't deserve to win.... The point he has made is being made for past several years and is a valid point but to say we lost because of toss is not acceptable comment... If Rajasthan batted for 3 days to post huge score.. TN should have batted remaining 2 days at least and come close to total...then this comment would have been appropriate from karthik.. Fact that Rajasthan mnaged to bat 'long' time.. n then bowl out TN for mediocre score is the right reason why Rajasthan have won the trophy... The deserving team won the chanpionship. Karthik should think about this and take back the above comments..

  • Augustine on January 25, 2012, 8:27 GMT

    The Ranji set up where 1st innings lead is given preference has some serious flaws. 1) Teams tend to play for 1st innings lead rather than a result causing dull draws.(particularly in knock out matches) 2) If the 1st innings lead is very less and the match ends in a draw, there could be cases where the other team is in a better position to win. 3) No killer instinct, lack of spirit to win which could hurt the national team also.

    The final was best example of the farce of 1st innings lead. Rajastan played well to score over 600. They got TN out for 295 and still didn't enforce follow on. They opted to bat making a mockery of 5th days play. Why not enforce follow on and try to get TN out. ??

  • Ramesh on January 25, 2012, 8:14 GMT

    Agreed..the pitch should be a sporting one that enables a good contest between bat and ball...But Mr.Karthik, I fail to understand one thing...your team had plenty of time to overhaul or at least get close to Rajasthan's total..you failed..it was equally lifeless when TN batted.

  • sachin on January 25, 2012, 6:31 GMT

    I agree, deciding the winner based on first-innings-lead is terrible, it only produces negative cricket all-around, the team winning the toss usually bat first on a flat pitch & bats very defensively to score as much as the can & get a big score then the other team bats defensively as well since they don't want to concede a lead (& therefore a possible WIN) & the bowlers are looking to contain mostly....so the whole thing just turns into a useless charade of negativism. If Indian cricket is to really get somewhere in the long-run, then such rules need to be scrapped & better system which elicits positive batting & BOWLING should be brought in @TRAM, you please stick to T20s, thanks.

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