Pricked by Harbhajan’s tweet on spin-friendly pitches, Kohli defends spinners | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Pricked by Harbhajan’s tweet on spin-friendly pitches, Kohli defends spinners

Harbhajan’s tweets stoke fire at a time R Ashwin has been breaking nearly every spin record on home soil to take India to the No 1 position in ICC Test rankings.

cricket Updated: Oct 12, 2016 16:13 IST
Kushal Phatarpekar
Virat Kohli

Indian skipper Virat Kohli backed Indian spinners saying that the pitches could only help as much but it still takes a lot to spin the ball on turning wickets. (AFP)

India skipper Virat Kohli has reacted to comments made by Harbhajan Singh that allege ‘tailormade conditions for spinners’ as a reason for the success of India’s current crop of spinners. Harbhajan, in a series of tweets, said the Indore pitch was lopsided in favour of spinners, using the hashtag #tailormadeconditionsforspinners. Harbhajan added that he and current India coach Anil Kumble would have picked up more wickets if they were offered the same pitches during the prime of their careers.

The Indian team have completed a 3-0 sweep against New Zealand and reclaimed the No. 1 Test spot.

Asked for his reaction to Harbhajan’s tweets in the post-match press conference on Tuesday, Kohli seemed perplexed. “Who made that statement?” he asked, a little peeved. When told it was Harbhajan, Kohli tried to be diplomatic, but had no choice but to give a straight answer. “See even if it is a turning pitch you have to bowl well. Spin doesn’t happen only off the pitch. Spin is about how many revs you impart off the shoulder first. And then the ball will do something off the pitch,” Kohli said.

“I remember after we lost to New Zealand in the World T20, suddenly their spinners were quality and we were found out. I don’t see anyone talking about that now. The same spinners have played. Why have they not been able to pick wickets? It is as simple as that. Our fast bowlers picked wickets everywhere. We never complained about anything. You can give a guy a cement track to bat on. He (still) needs to have the mindset to score runs. It is as simple as that,” he added.

Read more | Knew we’re good enough to do well on any surface against any team: Virat Kohli

Harbhajan had said that the trend of ‘tailormade conditions had been on for four years’. The pitches have remained a matter of concern, with the New Zealand side resigned to the fact that in India, they will suit spin. However, this season, not many have been critical of the pitches, which have not been rank-turners like the ones seen during South Africa’s tour to in India in late 2015. Kohli said it was a team effort that gave them the clean sweep.

“We knew before the series that people are going to start talking about pitches,” Kohli said. “But we made it a point that we knew that there are monsoons everywhere, wickets are not going to be as dry. Especially in Kolkata, we knew that it wouldn’t be dry; it was a newly laid wicket. We didn’t say anything once. We believe in our abilities, we should be good enough to do it on any surface and against any team,” he added.

“That is a step in the right direction as far as our team is concerned. We believe in our skill much more, and not focus on creating atmosphere or conditions that might suit us partially. We just wanted to express ourselves the way we can on a cricket field. We finished two games in four days on perfectly fine Test cricket pitches. That gives us a lot of confidence.”

Read more I Ashwin tops charts: No Test spinner in last 100 years has a better strike-rate

Harbhajan’s tweets stoked fire at a time R Ashwin has been breaking nearly every spin record on home soil to take India to the No 1 position in ICC Test rankings. In Indore, Ashwin picked up 13 wickets in the match with six in the first innings and seven in the second. He finished with his best-ever figures in a match and also won his fourth consecutive Man of the Series award.