'No harm in exploiting home advantage'

Blaming the flat track in Ahmedabad for India's failure to get a result, coach John Wright said officials responsible for preparing the wickets should keep the home advantage factor in mind.
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Updated on Oct 14, 2003 06:19 PM IST
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PTI | ByPress Trust of India, Mohali

Blaming the flat track in Ahmedabad for India's failure to force a result in their favour, coach John Wright on Tuesday said officials responsible for preparing the wickets should keep the home advantage factor in mind.

Wright said the Ahmedabad track had nothing to offer to the bowlers even on the fourth and fifth day and the "world class" spinners in both the teams struggled to get any purchase.

"It is the responsibility of people preparing the wickets to keep these things in mind. Sometimes, you probably need to raise these points with people-responsible," Wright told reporters here.

Set a target of 370 for win, New Zealand lost six wickets by the post-lunch session on the last day but still managed to draw the first Test at Ahmedabad mainly on account of a gritty performance by Craig Mcmillan and Nathan Astle.

"Its unusual in India that the team batting first scores 500 runs in the first innings and there is no assistance to the bowlers in the later stages of the match," he said.

"We have to play on wickets that are given to us. Some times you hope a little bit of home advantage. It is the case in all the countries. In Australia, they make sure that their wickets never turn.

Like captain Sourav Ganguly, Wright also came out in support of the Indian bowlers and said it would be unfair to expect them to win the match on such a flat track.

"There were three world class spinners -- Kumble, Harbhajan and Vettori -- playing in the match. They all struggled on the track. But the long spells will help them in the subsequent match," he said.

Wright said the players have no option but to play on tracks that are given to them. "You have to play on whatever wicket that is given to you. You have to approach the game and adapt accordingly".

"We played good cricket but we could not finish the match in the way we desired", he said.

The coach said he was particularly pleased with the way the batsmen performed in the first Test. "It was a good performance and I am pleased with the batting. In bowling, I think Zaheer (Khan) did a good job, particularly in the first innings".

On the New Zealand treating the Ahmedabad outcome as a morale victory, Wright said "It is not an unusual kind of reaction from opposition teams".

Asked whether four specialist bowlers were sufficient to do the job in Test matches, Wright said "four bowlers can do a fine job, unless conditions demand otherwise".

Wright also gave a vote of confidence to young Delhi opener Aakash Chopra, who made his Test debut in Ahmedabad, saying he was quite happy the way he played.

"It is important to give some space to the newcomers. You have to have faith on them and show it. You have to allow these players to settle down".

Asked whether India should start preparing bouncier wickets to help the team perform better overseas, Wright said "trying to change the basic nature of Indian pitches will not be good for the game".

"India should keep its tradition. If we start making pitches like the ones in Australia, it will not be good for the game. The diversity of the game is also important," Wright said.

On the Mohali track, Wright said "let's hope there is balance between bat and ball. I had a look at the wicket and I hope there is more bounce".

On whether Ajit Agarkar, who has joined the squad in place of an injured Avishkar Salvi, would be playing in the second Test, Wright said "it is a decision we will be taking in a day or two".

The Indian coach said Yuvraj Singh, who is also in the squad, was very eager to earn his Test cap but it would be very difficult to accomodate him in the middle order.

"I know he is very keen to play. But it is hard to get hit in the middle order. He is knocking at the door loudly," he said.

Wright was not unduly worried about star batsman Sachin Tendulkar's form and said failure in just one Test did not reflect on his form.

The Indians had a strenuous practice session at the PCA stadium in the afternoon under the watchful eyes of the coach.

Many of the senior players, including captain Ganguly, Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag, who held discussions with cricket board president Jagmohan Dalmiya on graded payment in New Delhi on Monday, flew into Chandigarh this afternoon amidst tight security arrangements.

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