Miffed with the docile pitch in the drawn Ahmedabad Test against Sri Lanka, feisty Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh on Saturday said such batting-friendly tracks would kill cricket’s longest format.
“Such pitches will kill Test cricket. It’s a free ticket to batsmen and offer no contest,” said the off-spinner.
The Motera track has drawn flak from all quarters and both captains, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Kumar Sangakkara, said they had expected the pitch to offer some assistance to the bowlers on the last two days.
The ‘battathons’ of Motera are now in public domain but the bigger picture of pitches in India ought to make cricket administrators sit up and take notice.
Seven of the last 12 Tests in India have been draws. One triple century, six double and as many as 32 Test centuries have been hit.
One score in excess of 700, three each of 600 and 500 runs and no less than six scores of 400 and more have been managed.
The bowlers understandably have groaned under the strain. It has not mattered if the likes of Dale Steyn, Andrew Flintoff, Shoaib Akhtar or Muthiah Muralitharan have been in operation.
Bowlers now have genuine concerns for their careers in India, said Harbhajan.
Despite his 2 for 189 from 48 overs at Motera, Harbhajan is not overtly concerned about his own well-being as he has picked up 54 wickets from these 12 Tests against batting sides such as Pakistan, South Africa, Australia, England and Sri Lanka.
His 216 wickets from 43 Tests at home at an average of 27.40 with 17 five-wicket and four 10-wicket hauls is still very impressive.
“It’s not me alone. At least I bowled on the second and third day (of the Motera Test). The best match-winner in the history of the game (Murali) was struggling to go past the bat even on the fifth afternoon,” said Harbhajan with palpable concern.
“It doesn’t matter if the pitch is not spinner-friendly. It would be alright even if it helps seamers alone. But bowlers need to be in business. They shouldn’t be there to just serve the batsmen,” he added.