Champions League Twenty20 2009 October 20, 2009

Gambhir leads criticism of Delhi pitch


Delhi Daredevils may not have been the subject of much conversation during the Champions League, thanks to their lacklustre performance, but the pitch at their home ground, the Feroz Shah Kotla, seems to have made up for it - and not in a nice way. With its low, uneven and unpredictable bounce and slow nature, the freshly laid Delhi wicket has been a talking point - and the subject of often harsh criticism from cricketers - from the first game it hosted where, ironically, Delhi failed to reach even three figures against Victoria.

The statistics are damning: Delhi has recorded the fewest sixes of the three venues, a little more than half those hit in Hyderabad; four scores below 100, one of which was the tournament's lowest total; and 40 % of all wickets falling in the "bowled" column, testifying to the difficulty in predicting the bounce.

More damning, though, are the words of Gambhir, Delhi's new captain and form batsman. His criticism began after the loss to Victoria, a match in which his middle stump was sent cart-wheeling by a shooter from Shane Harwood. "I don't know how bad a wicket it is, but it is not an ideal wicket for a Twenty20 game because you just don't have a chance to come back," he said then. Asked on Tuesday whether his opinion had changed through the tournament, one in which he and fellow big-hitters Virender Sehwag and Tillakaratne Dilshan were largely kept quiet, his reply was an emphatic, stinging no.

"It did affect [Delhi] because as batsmen you want to go out in a Twenty20 game and play your shots without any sort of doubts in your mind. You want to hit fours and sixes but that was not possible," Gambhir told Cricinfo. He said he would have loved to play on the sporting track at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad. "Hyderabad has the best pitch but we never got an opportunity to play there," Gambhir said.

His views were echoed by Andrew Puttick, the Cobras captain, after his side was bowled out for 84 at the Kotla in the last game of the league stage on Monday, a defeat that allowed his team to play their semi-final in Hyderabad instead of Delhi. "These kinds of wickets will not make for a great spectacle because Twenty20 is all about fours and sixes. So I am pretty happy I'm playing in Hyderabad."

Not everyone supported Gambhir's view on the pitch though. Former Indian batsman, and now TV commentator, Sanjay Manjrekar said the Kotla pitch may not have been suited for the Twenty20 format but it wasn't "sub-standard" either. "It makes the games more closely fought and that can only be good for cricket as there is good contest between bat and ball," Manjrekar said.

So why is the pitch so dodgy? After the IPL was moved to South Africa, the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) decided to overhaul the entire ground, and put in a fresh square in the middle. Daljit Singh, head of BCCI's ground and pitch committee, who overlooked the relaying of the Kotla pitch, said it was a "bold" but positive move on DDCA's part, as they were looking forward to a good pitch for the 2011 World Cup. Daljit admitted that even if it was not yet a finished product, the Kotla track was able to promote tight contests. "It is a two-month old wicket, it will take time to settle. It is not an ideal Twenty20 pitch," Daljit said. It was the first in India, he said with some pride, to have drainage around the square.

Daljit said players like New South Wales captain Simon Katich and Mahela Jayawardene of Wayamba had told him they enjoyed playing on the "challenging" Delhi pitch and had no major qualms. He added that the material used in preparing the new pitch was very good, as "not a single ball has taken any mud out with it which, for a new wicket, is fantastic. The wicket has not subsided anywhere."

Still, not everyone agreed with DDCA's timing of relaying the pitch. "The structure, format and the tournament is such that you want high scores, batsmen to succeed and the pitch should support them," Amrit Mathur, the Delhi Daredevils' chief operation officer, said. "You are depriving fans and supporters of the kind of cricket they expect to witness. To that extent the wicket could've been better."

Mathur's concern was that the batsmen had to place a premium on safety, something not good for the Twenty20 brand of cricket. However, the two Australian sides that clash in the semi-final in Delhi have not been losing any sleep over the tricky nature of the Kotla pitch. "It is not an ideal T20 pitch, but you need to adapt," Katich said. Stuart Clark, the NSW fast bowler, backed his captain. "The wicket is a bit slow and low and you might not get a total like 170-180. You have to adapt to the conditions and the wicket and try and execute your skills to the best of your ability."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Alex on October 22, 2009, 4:14 GMT

    I don't understand why Indian teams showing excuses about the pitch, There always played 2 teams but won one who deserve the victory. That's all. Shame for IPL teams, specially Ashis Nehra the unfit player has done the most damage after dropping the Tylor Catch against Bangalore.

  • Ramesh on October 21, 2009, 19:29 GMT

    Ha Ha, Look at this kiddish fellow. On the same pitch today NSW has scored 169 and defended and bowled out the opposition for paltry 90. Catches and Bowlers win matches. IPL has screwed all the mind set of the Indian cricketers. Where is the bench strength and you see that foreign NO-named 20/20 fellows are playing good in Indian soil and these so-called delhites who own the pitch cannot play in their own court. Start accepting the fact that you fellows were below par and will be it for the next couple of years.

  • nikhilsg on October 21, 2009, 17:03 GMT

    go_bcci_go: come on!!! you can't be serious... how can you say the indian players were worse off because of the positions they played in??

    i don't know whether Gambhir volunteered those comments or responded to a question (if the latter, we shd probably let him off the hook; if the former, i am disappointed in him and the "cribber" comments are totally justified... i really admire his attitude/batting and this would make him really drop in the eyes of his fans)

    i for one am really happy none of the Indian teams made it to the semis: this shd be a wakeup call to Lalit Modi. Stop being a bully in world cricket... Stop milking the 20-20 format...

  • Sikandar on October 21, 2009, 16:41 GMT

    To GO_BCCI_GO: respect your comments, however it is BCCI's right to provide good [bouncy, seam-induced pitches] for our benefit. We have been putting lots of money into MRF pace foundation, and with billion+ people and billions of dollars, we just don't have a Mortaza [Bangla] or Aamir [Pakistan] or this new brand of sri lankan pace duo ! or even a Rankin [Ireland]. What is the point of crating a PACE foundation when we can't even create pitches that are relevant to PACE!!! Irfan can still do better than others, if this guy is persisted! We put him on the pedestal when he was delivering and dumped because he "is psychologically down", and then found Ishant and now he can't learn and adapt fast!! Sreesanth is also full of himself...the list goes on! What happened to Pankaj singh..Bose..and all these pace bowlers of INDIA!!!

  • Bharath on October 21, 2009, 14:08 GMT

    It was a nice to see batsmen being tested as against bowlers being bashed. It just tested the batsmen's ability to adapt to the pitch & conditions even though the format is really short. A good amount of cricketing sense was warranted. Teams were beaten fair and square on the Delhi pitch as it behaved the same way in both the innings.

  • Mahendra on October 21, 2009, 11:55 GMT

    If Gambhir has failed to leave any impression in tournament, it is not the fault of pitch. T20 is a format where the condition of pitch or toss has minimal affect on the game. Gambhir is out of form since long, hence his failure in champion's league is not surprising. Most of the Indian teams in tournament were weak in comparison to teams of other clubs. The reason is that they were cohesive units unlike Indian clubs having players from all part of the world/India

    when Indian team went for T20 world cup, they played IPL and failed. Later these players played corporate cup before embarking for Campions trophy and again failed. At both occassion, team management claimed that Indian team is in better shape by playing these inconsequential tournaments, but returned back defeated. My worry is that Australians are here and are getting ready to play 7 match series. They are fresh from winning Champions trophy as well as series with england and Indians may found wanting

  • Anil on October 21, 2009, 11:35 GMT

    Dear Gambhir you are giving statements like a kid. You have played your cricket in delhi and now you are complaining that other teams beat you becoz the pitch was not good. This is rubbish. An outsider have beaten you in your home you have to accept this. Other teams also played here against your team on the same ground and beat you. There are no excuses.

  • Narendra on October 21, 2009, 11:22 GMT

    so saying that indian players are below par is just another case of stereotyping.

  • Narendra on October 21, 2009, 11:19 GMT


    if foreign players have won MOM for the matches won by ipl teams then it's because either they bat at crucial stages(mostly opening or 2 down) or bowl early. At these positions even a batsman of irfan pathan caliber can make runs .It's pity that in 'IPL' indian players are not allowed to showcase their talent.They either bat at death of the overs or bowl to contain players.If you can analyze then u ll find that indian bowlers are far more successful than foreign bowlers(like styen etc..).Given a chance,even lesser known indian (e.g manish pandey) can make a name for themselves.Only worrisome is their fielding standard.

  • Zulfi on October 21, 2009, 10:21 GMT

    We all need concur with East_West's comments. The results of the T20 World Cup as well the CLT clearly manifest the fact that Team India cannot succeed in this short format. It was mere beginner's luck that they managed to win the first edition of the T20 World Cup. Most of the Indian outfit in the IPL teams consists of low-caliber players and heavily relies on their four int'l players to win games…it's their performances that highly matters in any match, be it good batting pitches or slow ones. In the CLT - almost all the man-of the match awards were won by the int'l stars for the games won by the IPL team. In reality, its high time that the think thanks need to wake up and work towards rebuilding an all-round team by pooling in the right set of talented players that could consistently perform OR else just endlessly crib about every situation and still continue to make your bucks through endorsements. In the end failing to make it round 2 of major tournaments!!

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