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Pitch of discontent

Just what is a good pitch? Traditionally, when cricketers refer to a good pitch they mean one that is good for batting. Anand Vasu reports.

cricket Updated: Mar 30, 2009 23:26 IST
Anand Vasu

Just what is a good pitch? Traditionally, when cricketers refer to a good pitch they mean one that is good for batting. When a surface is described as sporting, it is usually one that offers reward for quality batting while giving the bowlers something to work with. The surface at McLean Park was the centre of much discussion after India batted 180 overs to save the Test.

“On most good Test wickets, you get a bit of variable bounce, some inconsistency as the wicket tends to wear and becomes more difficult for batting,” said Daniel Vettori. “You could bat on this wicket for another five or six days if you wanted to. It was just a supremely great deck for batting for long periods of time.”

Vettori said the home team came into the final day sensing they would have a small window of opportunity to close out the game. “We fancied our chances, particularly after getting Tendulkar out.

He looked the most comfortable of the batsmen, played his shots and put us under pressure whereas the others looked to defend and soak up time,” said Vettori. “When Tendulkar was dismissed, there was good spirit in the team but the wicket got the better of us in the end.”

The New Zealand captain was justifiably satisfied with his team’s effort. “The guys gave everything we stand for -— our ability to hang in there longer with the bat and put together a performance with the ball that was consistent all the way through,” said Vettori. “We were dominant through the Test match. After the performance in Hamilton, it was very pleasing to bounce back the way we did. I am obviously disappointed not to be able to force the issue on the final day. We couldn’t quite get the early wickets in the second innings, that was the only really hard thing about the Test.”

Even when pressed, Vettori did not term the Test a missed opportunity. “It’s hard to say. The amount of pressure we put India under was fantastic. The wicket was too good in the second innings and India decided to bat a lot more conservatively than they did in the first innings.

Gambhir did what India required of him. He batted for long periods and India needed to do that to save the Test match. You couldn’t really ask for too much more from him.”

New Zealand have a reputation for being a side that never gives up, but late on the final afternoon they knew a win had eluded them. “I thought when Jeetan (Patel) got Gambhir out, we had an opportunity with the third new ball with Chris (Martin) bowling as well as he did. Once that period was gone, it was the defining moment for us — when the Test match was gone.”