Kolkata:Twenty years ago, Eden Gardens had turned volatile after India captain Mohammad Azharuddin misread the pitch in a World Cup semi-final. On Saturday, both MS Dhoni and Shahid Afridi erred in judging the strip, but Pakistan had to pay through their nose after getting their playing 11 wrong as well.
The pitch seemed to retain some moisture --- after an hour of downpour --- when Dhoni and Afridi went out for the toss. That, Dhoni said, was the main reason why he chose to bowl. “We thought there would be some assistance for the bowlers initially. It was not dry or breaking down. It couldn’t get worse,” said Dhoni.
Pakistan allrounder Shoaib Malik too admitted they were expecting a flat pitch, like the one they had got against Bangladesh here. “Compared it to the last wicket, it didn’t look any different. In fact, it seemed a better wicket than that. We did not expect so much of spin on this wicket,” Malik said.
There was sharp turn even for Afridi who normally relies on arm-balls and quicker ones. How a flat pitch that had allowed Pakistan to score 200 on Wednesday turned into a rank turner in just three days remained a mystery.
India have now played two matches on turners but luckily for them, the Eden wicket was firmer. And Kohli had learnt from his mistake at Nagpur. “We never thought it would turn so much. They watered the wicket yesterday and I don’t think it got much sun today. I felt it was quite damp when I saw the wicket before the start of the game,” said Dhoni.
Pakistan though were done in by another serious error --- dropping their only orthodox spinner, left-armer Imad Wasim. Malik didn’t deny it was a mistake. “We all are human beings,” he said.
Eventually, it boiled down to the overs of spin. In total, India bowled nine overs of spin compared to six by Pakistan.