Baroda v Karnataka, Ranji Trophy semi-final, Vadodara, 1st day January 3, 2011

A very poor wicket - Uthappa

21

When 18 wickets fall on the first day of a four-day game, the focus falls on the pitch - and there it stays if that match happens to be a Ranji Trophy semi-final. The track at the Reliance Stadium in Vadodara saw some deliveries taking off sharply from a length, bouncers leaving dents on the pitch, and vicious turn right from the first ball bowled by the spinners, and sparked some strong criticism from the players.

"I think it's a very poor wicket," Robin Uthappa, the Karnataka opener, told ESPNcricinfo. "Forget bouncers, even good length deliveries were making indentations on the surface."

Uthappa was unambiguous in his assessment. "Frankly, when you play in the semi-finals of such a premier tournament like the Ranji Trophy, you want it to be played on a much better surface, not one that makes it in to a lottery. I faced the first delivery of the match, and the moment I marked my guard in the morning, I felt we were in for an interesting day as the dust came off the surface. The mud was flying from where the balls were pitching." Uthappa went to the third ball of spin in the game, edging a sharp turner from Bhargav Bhatt to slip.

"Many of us are trying to push for spots in the Indian team, and we certainly didn't expect this kind of wicket. I can understand when a side wants to make an under-prepared pitch in the league stages if they have to win, but come on, this is the semi-final."

It wasn't the pitch that consumed all the batsmen though, many of whom brought about their own demise by letting the surface prey on to their minds. "I won't say this is the best of tracks. In fact, it has played worse than what we expected. But it is one on which you need to apply yourself," Mukesh Narula, the Baroda coach said. "It is the semi-final of a premier tournament and even we would not like to play it on a rank bad wicket. But if you see, not one of Karnataka's wickets fell because of the pitch. And even for us, apart from [Ambati] Rayudu, who got one that jumped, one cannot blame the pitch for the rest of the wickets. Connor [Williams] went outside the off stump, Jaykishan [Kolsawala] tried to force a delivery, Kedar [Devdhar] played a length ball on the back foot and Swapnil [Singh] did not go near the ball. We are a young side, and the pressure told on us."

Narula felt Pinal Shah's positive unbeaten 72 was the right approach on this pitch. "Pinal has shown us the way. The moment we had a partnership going, it was looking totally different. It's all playing in the minds of the batsmen right now. And frankly, I think the pitch cannot worsen now. If we can add another 50 runs, it will be a big lead, and they will be under pressure."

Sanath Kumar, the Karnataka coach, agreed to an extent with Narula, but felt the wicket was definitely under-prepared. "It is very dry and has not been watered properly. But they are playing at home, and are within their rights to prepare whatever they think suits their strengths. They know the strength of our attack, and have taken the risk with such a wicket, and it has worked for them, so far at least."

Sanath felt his batsmen did not apply themselves, and his bowlers got carried away with the assistance on offer. "Yes, we batted badly, and will have to do much better in the second innings. The wicket is doing things, but you have to bowl in the right areas. After we got a few wickets, we relaxed and gave away the runs, and let it slip from there. But we have to pull up, and a total of 170 could prove difficult to chase on this wicket."

Fast bowler Murtuja Vahora, who took the most wickets on the day, felt there was not as much help on offer compared to the Moti Bagh wicket. "At that ground, it swings a lot because of the wind. Here, though it did move around a bit in the first hour, you have to be really disciplined with your lengths. Bowl it full, and you will be taken for runs. Bowl it short, and it sits up on the batsmen. Maybe the bouncer can be used as a surprise delivery, but generally, good length is the way to go here. In my opinion, it is a good wicket." Try telling that to the 18 batsmen who fell today.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • TRAM on January 6, 2011, 17:58 GMT

    Mr. Uthappa, ok, this pitch was horrible and was designed to destroy your batting. How many runs did you score in all other piches this year please? And where are you compared to other budding batsmen on the reserve? And when most pitches are flat in India and many teams score 500+ runs every time, did it ever occur to you that those pitches destroy the careers of budding young bowlers of India (both spin and fast bowlers) ??

  • on January 4, 2011, 12:07 GMT

    Please stop saying BCCI should do this and do that. You are all aware of who are the guys in power at the BCCI. They are all out there for their own personal gains. Cricket in India is none of their concern.

  • on January 4, 2011, 11:07 GMT

    Just because other matches are on flat decks it doesn't mean that they prepare such a wicket. A wicket must be balanced and the earliest the game should get over should be at least 3rd day and not 2nd

  • sandybhar on January 4, 2011, 10:22 GMT

    @varunsporty : Preparing a dust bowl which turns square right from ball one is not the way to prepare bowler friendly tracks. It should assist fast bowlers and medium pacers early and as the game goes on, the pitch should start assisting spinners. Its a shame that the semi-finals of india's premier domestic tournament has to played on such a track.

  • Johnny_129 on January 4, 2011, 9:09 GMT

    This a kind of pitch that India should prepare for visiting sides!

  • nataraajds on January 4, 2011, 9:08 GMT

    this is a very bad under prepared wicket for such an important match. imagine a big event like semifinal not even lasted 2 full days . I don't know the role of match referee here & what BCCI is doing. I feel karnataka should have refuse to play & register a complaint about the wicket.

  • shibukunnamthanam on January 4, 2011, 9:06 GMT

    INDIAN BATSMAN DONT KNOW HOW TO PLAY BOWLERS FRIENDLY WICKET.ALL PLAYERS ARE NEED FLAT BATTING WICKET. RANJI TROPHY 80% MATCHES ARE PLAYING FLAT WICKETS. SO UTHAPPA LIKES THAT WICKET.

  • varunsporty on January 4, 2011, 7:55 GMT

    I dont know why batsmen always complain when they get a bowler friendly wickets. Get real man, it should not always 500+ score in first innings and the team batting second under pressure from bowl one. I fully support the curator and request BCCI to prepare more such tracks to get result oriented games.

  • Ajayvs on January 4, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    @sonjjay what is defination of a sporting Wicket?A wicket that makes a below average spinner look like Shane Warne or a below average Seamer seem like Malcom Masrshall. A sporting pitch is one which gives fair chance to batters and bowlers of each team..

  • Ajayvs on January 4, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    I would Suggest the BCCI appoint independent Curators from the Quarter-Finals stage itself. Lets hope that every state association place national interest first above their own interests. We want deserving players to play at the national level.We dont need designed pitch specialists to be representing the country.

  • TRAM on January 6, 2011, 17:58 GMT

    Mr. Uthappa, ok, this pitch was horrible and was designed to destroy your batting. How many runs did you score in all other piches this year please? And where are you compared to other budding batsmen on the reserve? And when most pitches are flat in India and many teams score 500+ runs every time, did it ever occur to you that those pitches destroy the careers of budding young bowlers of India (both spin and fast bowlers) ??

  • on January 4, 2011, 12:07 GMT

    Please stop saying BCCI should do this and do that. You are all aware of who are the guys in power at the BCCI. They are all out there for their own personal gains. Cricket in India is none of their concern.

  • on January 4, 2011, 11:07 GMT

    Just because other matches are on flat decks it doesn't mean that they prepare such a wicket. A wicket must be balanced and the earliest the game should get over should be at least 3rd day and not 2nd

  • sandybhar on January 4, 2011, 10:22 GMT

    @varunsporty : Preparing a dust bowl which turns square right from ball one is not the way to prepare bowler friendly tracks. It should assist fast bowlers and medium pacers early and as the game goes on, the pitch should start assisting spinners. Its a shame that the semi-finals of india's premier domestic tournament has to played on such a track.

  • Johnny_129 on January 4, 2011, 9:09 GMT

    This a kind of pitch that India should prepare for visiting sides!

  • nataraajds on January 4, 2011, 9:08 GMT

    this is a very bad under prepared wicket for such an important match. imagine a big event like semifinal not even lasted 2 full days . I don't know the role of match referee here & what BCCI is doing. I feel karnataka should have refuse to play & register a complaint about the wicket.

  • shibukunnamthanam on January 4, 2011, 9:06 GMT

    INDIAN BATSMAN DONT KNOW HOW TO PLAY BOWLERS FRIENDLY WICKET.ALL PLAYERS ARE NEED FLAT BATTING WICKET. RANJI TROPHY 80% MATCHES ARE PLAYING FLAT WICKETS. SO UTHAPPA LIKES THAT WICKET.

  • varunsporty on January 4, 2011, 7:55 GMT

    I dont know why batsmen always complain when they get a bowler friendly wickets. Get real man, it should not always 500+ score in first innings and the team batting second under pressure from bowl one. I fully support the curator and request BCCI to prepare more such tracks to get result oriented games.

  • Ajayvs on January 4, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    @sonjjay what is defination of a sporting Wicket?A wicket that makes a below average spinner look like Shane Warne or a below average Seamer seem like Malcom Masrshall. A sporting pitch is one which gives fair chance to batters and bowlers of each team..

  • Ajayvs on January 4, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    I would Suggest the BCCI appoint independent Curators from the Quarter-Finals stage itself. Lets hope that every state association place national interest first above their own interests. We want deserving players to play at the national level.We dont need designed pitch specialists to be representing the country.

  • sonjjay on January 4, 2011, 5:53 GMT

    @Satish Babu.You are correct.Our players are so pampered on flat wickets that the moment they see a sporting wicket they freeze.Dravid,Laxman and Tendulkar also find it a little diffcult before they adjust to the pitch but they are world class batsmen.The ranji format stresses too much on the first innings which is a flaw.I am really happy to see this pitch let them prove themselves on such pitches or else they should stick to playing in IPL only.

  • on January 4, 2011, 4:51 GMT

    Lol ! This year ranji semi finals is very interesting. Tamil Nadu is fighting hard to get wickets on shit flat pitch and baroda and karnataka are working hard to bat on another shit pitch.

    BCCI should take actions to improve domestic cricket. Within 2-3 years sachin, dravid and laxman will retire, then bcci should search for good and talent players using the binoculars.

  • on January 4, 2011, 4:41 GMT

    Dear Mr.Uthappa, If you or any of your team mates are really dreaming of a place in the current Indian side, you better score in these kind of pitches. Scoring a 100 on a good wicket would not make the selectors take notice but a 70 odd in these pitches will catch the selectors eye.

  • on January 4, 2011, 3:07 GMT

    SSRajan: What makes u say we are poor travellers?? If u look at the stats we have done reasonable well than what we used to in the 90's. Last 6 to 8 years we have won Test Matches & series outside the subcontinent in places like England, WI, Pak & NZ. Don't understand why everyone loves to criticize?? It is an under prepared wicket. Pitch for a semi final or final should give opportunity to both the bowlers & batsmen, to make the contest more interesting!!

  • SSRajan on January 3, 2011, 21:34 GMT

    @Raghavan Parthasarathy : 18 wickets fell in Durban because of some beautiful swing bowling from both sides and the inability of batsmen to cope with the swing in the air. It had nothing to do with the wicket. The bounce was high there but consistently high. Not like this one.

  • ShashidharHundi on January 3, 2011, 20:03 GMT

    BCCI should pay serious attention to improve the state of pitches in country. You either get a pitch where you have to play 7 or 8 days to get a result OR you get pitches like the one in Reliance stadium where game may not lost for more than 3 days. Come on BCCI, bring in right curators and come up with sporting pitches where both batsmen & bowlers have equal oppurtunity. We have seen enough one sided matches and to generate more interest in domestic games first work on getting the right pitches first...... Don't be surprised if this match doesn't go for third day......

  • on January 3, 2011, 19:50 GMT

    Last match at Durban between India and South Africa on Day 2 also saw 18 wickets in a shortened rain day.

  • SSRajan on January 3, 2011, 19:34 GMT

    @Satish Babu : LOL, completely agree!!! These guys cannot play on anything other than featherbeds, even if their life depended on it!! All they can do is complain. No wonder, we have beeen poor travellers all these years. Having said that, the standard of pitches in domestic cricket has not exactly been top of the lline. But these batsmen should not be complaining about it, without looking inwards first..

  • Ajayvs on January 3, 2011, 19:03 GMT

    Its really a SHAME such a wicket has been prepared for a Semi Final.Lets hope atleast it stays bad through out the match, not giving any un-due advantage to any particular team.

  • UdayKBN on January 3, 2011, 18:51 GMT

    18 wickets in a day.... you must be crazy curator !!!!!

  • on January 3, 2011, 17:33 GMT

    You can't score runs in a bouncing wicket! You can't score runs in a turning wicket! so who do you blame and what do you blame? The pitch curator and of course the pitch!

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on January 3, 2011, 17:33 GMT

    You can't score runs in a bouncing wicket! You can't score runs in a turning wicket! so who do you blame and what do you blame? The pitch curator and of course the pitch!

  • UdayKBN on January 3, 2011, 18:51 GMT

    18 wickets in a day.... you must be crazy curator !!!!!

  • Ajayvs on January 3, 2011, 19:03 GMT

    Its really a SHAME such a wicket has been prepared for a Semi Final.Lets hope atleast it stays bad through out the match, not giving any un-due advantage to any particular team.

  • SSRajan on January 3, 2011, 19:34 GMT

    @Satish Babu : LOL, completely agree!!! These guys cannot play on anything other than featherbeds, even if their life depended on it!! All they can do is complain. No wonder, we have beeen poor travellers all these years. Having said that, the standard of pitches in domestic cricket has not exactly been top of the lline. But these batsmen should not be complaining about it, without looking inwards first..

  • on January 3, 2011, 19:50 GMT

    Last match at Durban between India and South Africa on Day 2 also saw 18 wickets in a shortened rain day.

  • ShashidharHundi on January 3, 2011, 20:03 GMT

    BCCI should pay serious attention to improve the state of pitches in country. You either get a pitch where you have to play 7 or 8 days to get a result OR you get pitches like the one in Reliance stadium where game may not lost for more than 3 days. Come on BCCI, bring in right curators and come up with sporting pitches where both batsmen & bowlers have equal oppurtunity. We have seen enough one sided matches and to generate more interest in domestic games first work on getting the right pitches first...... Don't be surprised if this match doesn't go for third day......

  • SSRajan on January 3, 2011, 21:34 GMT

    @Raghavan Parthasarathy : 18 wickets fell in Durban because of some beautiful swing bowling from both sides and the inability of batsmen to cope with the swing in the air. It had nothing to do with the wicket. The bounce was high there but consistently high. Not like this one.

  • on January 4, 2011, 3:07 GMT

    SSRajan: What makes u say we are poor travellers?? If u look at the stats we have done reasonable well than what we used to in the 90's. Last 6 to 8 years we have won Test Matches & series outside the subcontinent in places like England, WI, Pak & NZ. Don't understand why everyone loves to criticize?? It is an under prepared wicket. Pitch for a semi final or final should give opportunity to both the bowlers & batsmen, to make the contest more interesting!!

  • on January 4, 2011, 4:41 GMT

    Dear Mr.Uthappa, If you or any of your team mates are really dreaming of a place in the current Indian side, you better score in these kind of pitches. Scoring a 100 on a good wicket would not make the selectors take notice but a 70 odd in these pitches will catch the selectors eye.

  • on January 4, 2011, 4:51 GMT

    Lol ! This year ranji semi finals is very interesting. Tamil Nadu is fighting hard to get wickets on shit flat pitch and baroda and karnataka are working hard to bat on another shit pitch.

    BCCI should take actions to improve domestic cricket. Within 2-3 years sachin, dravid and laxman will retire, then bcci should search for good and talent players using the binoculars.