Will our curators heed Dhoni's call for turning wickets?
After the first Test against England at Motera, M S Dhoni was categorical about the kind of wickets he would like to see in the remaining matches of the series. It won't be a surprise, says Bikash Mohapatra, if the curators appease him with rank turners.
I don't even want to see such a wicket again."
MS Dhoni was categorical about the wicket in Motera, the venue of the opening Test between India and England, this despite the hosts winning quite comfortably.
Given Team India's history as travelers -- the team has always had it tough playing on wickets that have seam and bounce, and generally a poor record overall overseas -- it is palpable that the team wants to retain its winning edge on home soil.
To make matters worse, the only occasions in recent history when Indian curators have broken the norm and prepared wickets with a hint of movement, the home side ended up losing inside three days, the opening Test against South Africa in Motera (2008) and the corresponding fixture against the same opponents in Nagpur (2010) being cases to the effect.
'The spinners didn't get much turn'
India's captain has reiterated the desire to have turning tracks towards this end, but it hasn't always been the case.
The wicket in Motera, for instance, was a flat track that became better for batting as the match progressed. No wonder, having bowled the visitors out for a paltry 191 in their first essay, and gaining a 330-run first innings lead therein, Dhoni's team had to endure an English Renaissance, led by captain Alastair Cook, in the second and was forced to bat a second time.
Dhoni was visibly dissatisfied.
'As the game progressed the wicket got slower and slower,' he explained, adding, 'The spinners didn't get much turn.
'I believe it is the last session on the second day and the first on the third that turned the game our way.'
'We want to see two sides competing'
Having expressed his disappointment about the wicket at Motera, he was categorical about the kind of wickets he would like to see in the remaining three Tests.
'Hopefully we will see the wicket turn in the coming matches,' he affirmed.
In doing so he came up with his own weird idea of making a Test match competitive on Indian conditions and nullifying the advantage of the toss, the latter being the decisive factor in most matches -- the team calling it correctly usually ends up winning the match.
'At times, in the subcontinent pitches, the toss becomes vital. What we want to see is two sides competing and the toss not being that important a factor,' reasoned Dhoni.
'The only way to take the toss out of the equation is by having a wicket that turns from the first day,' he continued, adding, 'It is a risk. Maybe, the match will get over in three days. But at least both the teams will have an equal chance of winning.'
'The match referee can't question a turning wicket'
Asked if the wicket turning from the outset would initiate scrutiny from the match referee, he replied in the negative.
'I don't think the match referee can question a pitch just because it's turning,' said Dhoni.
'When the wicket seams right from the first delivery nobody asks questions,' he added.
With three Tests remaining, and the captain having made his intentions clear, it won't be a surprise if the curators, henceforth, try to appease the team and come up with rank turners.
And that, definitely, is not good news for England.