Furious after South Africa piled on the agony by scoring 438 runs at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium against India on Sunday, team director Ravi Shastri abused the curator of the pitch Sudhir Naik, a former India opener, for producing a wicket that offered hardly any assistance to the Indian spinners, primarily.
Taking a sarcastic dig at Naik, Shastri first said, “Great wicket”, and followed with a cuss word saying, “G****** T*** Wicket” ( in Marathi). Naik, taking offence to Shastri’s remark, retorted by saying, “Don’t teach me about wicket, I have also played for India.” Naik, it is learnt, soon took up the matter with a Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) official later in the evening.
“It has been conveyed to us by Naik that Ravi Shastri had abused him during the match once South Africa’s innings was over. We haven’t received anything in written from Naik, will see if we receive any written complaint,” said one top MCA official on the condition of anonymity.
The matter has even reached the top officials of the BCCI. Both Naik and Shastri were unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts made by HT. According to an MCA official, Sudhir Naik was appointed as pitch consultant in an honorary capacity a month ago to oversee three grounds affiliated to the MCA: Wankhede, BKC and Kandivali.
Ravi Shastri’s frustration stems from the fact that the Indian team management had requested the MCA official to prepare a wicket that can be a little helpful to their spinners particularly after the spinners turned appreciable at the Chepauk wicket in Chennai. With the Indian team’s sudden liking for the turner after the Chennai victory, when the team managed to stayed afloat in the series, the team management shifted their attention to the Wankhede pitch.
However, the hosting association was in two minds whether to tinker with the pitch so late with just two days remaining before the Sunday match. “Their (team management) request came so late that we couldn’t have done anything to the pitch. I don’t know why so much of fuss being created around the pitch when the touring side has adapted well to the pitches here,” said a source in the MCA.
The fact is the MCA saw a possible mess in doing something at the last minute, not sure what effect that would have, hence chose not to tinker around with the pitch.
“If you see the wicket it was true batting wicket. Very good batting wicket. There was no turn to offer for the spinners. You can swing the ball, but when wicket is flat actually we don’t hit them hard. Our strength is entirely different, we see everybody going for runs, the fast bowlers are gone for runs, and spinners are gone for runs. There is not really much for offer, that’s the reason when partnership has built up, it look difficult for us to stop boundaries. All most all the strategy we used to stop them from hitting the short pitch deliveries. But when wicket is such and that kind of partnership, you can’t do much,” said Dhoni in the press conference when asked about the wicket.
In a series where the visitors have outplayed the hosts by adapting to the heat, to the conditions and the pitches, the Indian team has resorted to all sorts of excuses. First, it was against the umpiring by Vineet Kulkarni, in response to which the South African captain AB de Villiers made a dig at the Indian team by saying, “We are not the team and I am not the captain who would criticise umpire’s decision in public.”
Also, the training session given to the visiting side solely as per the Indian team’s convenience also didn’t invite any negativity from the touring side. When David Miller was asked about their odd training schedule, he said, “I don’t know, we haven’t planned it that way, it was just arranged by the host. All I make sure is that I don’t miss the bus in the morning for the training.”
Even the searing heat that was sapping players from both the teams, often enough South African players have spoken about their preparedness to deal with the prevailing conditions in India. India’s whining baby attitude has left a bad impression of their own preparedness.