Virat Kohli has the final say, makes debate on pitch redundant in Wankhede Test | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Virat Kohli has the final say, makes debate on pitch redundant in Wankhede Test

Watching India bat on Friday and in the first session of the third day on Saturday, it did appear that the spin we had seen from the Indians had more to do with the superior quality of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja than any devil in the wicket. It had also something to do with the superior footwork of the centurion Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara and when wickets were falling, with Virat Kohli’s tremendous ability to negotiate the turning ball.

cricket Updated: Dec 10, 2016 16:55 IST
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Pradeep Magazine
Hindustan Times
India vs England,Virat Kohli,Wankhede Test
India captain Virat Kohli scored his 15th Test century on Day 3 of the fourth Test against England at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday. (PTI)

For most part of the second day and the first session of Day 3, while India were batting, the wicket looked benign and lacking in spin with Virat Kohli calling the shots. Was this the same track where Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja had on the first day spun and bounced the ball sharply?

The pundits were a bit confounded and the verdict split. Ashwin, the man who took six wickets and should know better, felt the wicket was deceptive and unless the right speed and length were not adhered to, batting was easy on it. (SCORECARD)

Former India off spinner, who relied more on flight and loop in his playing days, Ramesh Powar, too echoed similar sentiments. “Unless you bowl on a good length, the ball won’t turn here,” he was quoted in a newspaper after the end of the second day’s play. (DAY 3 HIGHLIGHTS)

Watching India bat on Friday and in the first session of the third day on Saturday, it did appear that the spin we had seen from the Indians had more to do with the superior quality of the bowlers than any devil in the wicket. It had also something to do with the superior footwork of the centurion Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara and when wickets were falling, withVirat Kohli’s tremendous ability to negotiate the turning ball.

Just as it appeared that India were cruising along, the post lunch session saw a dramatic change in the nature of the wicket and the ability of the batsmen to play the spinning ball. Vijay may have lost himself to a full toss from Adil Rashid, but Karun Vijay and Parthiv Patel were getting confounded by the ball spinning by the yard.

It was the length and the speed at which you bowl on this wicket, Ashwin had said, and probably that is the reason the occasional off-spinner in Joe Root, bowling much slower and tossing the ball up, got two wickets and shackled India’s serene progress.

Read more | Murali Vijay anchors India reply with eighth Test century, third vs England

The wicket once again appeared a spinning paradise and England were back in the game. But they were yet again made to retreat by the man who is at the peak of his formidable batting powers. Kohli marched to another century and more significantly, through his technical brilliance and mental toughness, made all the debate about whether the wicket was a vicious turner or not, almost redundant.

Read more | Virat Kohli enters 4000-club, then slams 15th Test century at Wankhede Stadium

Much as cricket lends itself to these delicious debates that many times remain unresolved, it is finally the performance that matters and has the final say. In Ashwin with the ball and Kohli with the bat, India have two exceptional performers who have influenced the course of a Test decisively.

England now will have to come up with something extraordinary with the bat in conditions which would give Ashwin and Jadeja enough encouragement to weave their spin magic. They would require enough runs to give their own bowlers the chance to put India under pressure and avoid going 0-3 down in the series.

First Published: Dec 10, 2016 16:55 IST