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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

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Dhoni slammed for doctored pitch rant
Subhash Rajta , Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 20, 2012
First Published: 23:39 IST(20/11/2012)
Last Updated: 10:57 IST(21/11/2012)

Few would find fault with a wicket on which three hundreds were scored, including a double, a spinner picked up nine wickets, the pacers stayed relevant, and most importantly, a result was achieved on the final day.

India skipper MS Dhoni did, but then, he's not known to tread the conventional path.

That perhaps can explain his rant against the quality of the Motera wicket after accomplishing a comprehensive nine-wicket win in the first Test against England on Monday.

“I don't want to see this wicket ever again…we need wickets that start offering turn right from the start,” he demanded soon after the game.

Negative attitude
His outburst doesn't seem to have gone down well with anyone — be it former players or curators.

“It was really surprising to read Dhoni asking curators to doctor the pitches. It's really negative to the game. If you want to be the best in the world, you got to take all conditions and not always ask for conditions that suit your style of play,” said Steve Waugh, the former Australian skipper who led the team to great success in different conditions.

In 2001, Waugh wasn't amused that rank turners awaited Australia on the India tour, but the pitches played brilliantly in what turned out to be one of the most memorable series in Test history.

On Tuesday, Waugh said: “I captained the side for 57 matches and never once had a word with the curator about what sort of pitch we were going to play.” That's a privilege curators in India have never enjoyed. They generally have had captains and assorted officials arm-twisting them into preparing certain type of wickets.

“We are absolutely fine with the wickets that offer some advantage to the hosts, but the concept of home advantage can't be stretched beyond a limit. We have seen matches finishing within three days in Mumbai and Kanpur in the past. Is that what Dhoni wants? Such wickets could help you score a few brownie points, but is it good for the game?” asked a senior curator, who did not wish to be named.

Strange request
Dhoni's demand doesn't cut ice with past spinners either. “If this wicket wasn't turning, I don't know what a turning track is. And wasn't this wicket turning from Day One? Just look up how Sehwag and Virat were dismissed,” said former India left-arm spinner Maninder Singh.

“I fail to understand what Dhoni wants. He must realise it's the bowler who turns the ball, not the pitch. I feel the embarrassing losses in England and Australia are still playing on his psyche,” he said.

This scathing criticism notwithstanding, Dhoni had a point when he said the Ahmedabad wicket slowed down.

But then wickets aren't prepared in laboratories and can't afford the precise turn and pace as desired by the home skipper.

By going hard on the wicket that had many rights and maybe just one drawback, he has left himself open to scathing but maybe justified criticism.


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