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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

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Awful pitch, not good enough for Tests
Ian Botham
December 14, 2012
First Published: 00:03 IST(14/12/2012)
Last Updated: 10:48 IST(14/12/2012)

I doubt if this sort of a pitch will help India's cause to level the series 2-2. It's an awful cricket pitch with no pace and bounce at all. If England can get past 250, then it will be the Indian batsmen who will be under more pressure. The scorecard might not look very pretty for England at the moment, but at the end of Day One, I think, it's even-steven.

I strongly feel that Test cricket shouldn't be played on such kind of wickets. This is a very crucial Test for India and they are desperate to square the series. I don't understand how this sort of a wicket will help their cause.

Big mistake
I am equally surprised by their team selection. I think they have made a big mistake by including just one fast bowler. The pace and bounce of the wicket will start playing tricks as the game progresses, and that is where the role of a medium pacer will come in even more.

England have two seamers - James Anderson and Tim Bresnan - both of whom are capable of reverse swing, so it's an advantage that the English have. India, if they bat last on this pitch, may face challenges with English bowling.

Ravindra Jadeja's recent form with the bat in domestic competition has won him a Test cap. Whatever I have seen of him, he seems to be more of a middle-order batsman who can bowl. Though he picked up two crucial wickets, I am surprised that he did the bulk of the bowling ahead of the regular spinners like Piyush Chawla and R Ashwin. The Indians have not got their bowling combo right.

With Zaheer Khan not around, Ishant Sharma is India's most experienced seamer. On this sort of wicket, he would have sought support from another seam bowler. Over the years, there has been a lot of hype around Ishant. In his early days, I saw him run through quality Australian top order and, at his best, he has troubled batsmen of Ricky Ponting's class.

Ishant has shown a lot of promise, but after playing close to 50 Tests, all of us expect the promise to be converted into consistent performances. He has had an injury-plagued career, and it's never easy to come back and be at your best after returning from frequent injuries.

He shouldn't be judged by performances in one or two Tests. He should be given a little time to settle down and then the team management needs to figure out how he is shaping up. I feel that he would be short of help from another seam bowler.

PMG

The writer is a former England captain


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