IND vs ENG: Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh Slam Motera Pitch, Call It Not Ideal For Test Cricket; Sunil Gavaskar And Geoffrey Boycott Blame Batsmen For Failure
Yuvraj Singh and former players slam Motera Pitch for India vs England 3rd Test, Sunil Gavaskar blames batsmen for poor technique©BCCI-PTI

The pitch for the third Test between India and England at the newly-built Motera stadium, now renamed Narendra Modi Stadium, continues to remain the center of every cricket-related debate. India defeated England by 10 wickets inside two days to take a 2-1 lead in the four-match series. In the post-World War II era, the Ahmedabad Test between India and England was the shortest in terms of the total number of balls bowled at 842. Virat Kohli and Co put in a dominating performance with the ball to win the pink-ball Test inside first two days. Several cricketers, including India’s ace spinner Harbhajan Singh and former batsman VVS Laxman, said that the turning Motera pitch, on which the third Test was played, was not ideal for Test cricket.

“It was not an ideal pitch for a Test match and even India collapsed – to 145 in their first innings,” former India batsman Laxman said.

Harbhajan, one of the four members of the Indian 400 Test wicket club, also felt the same. “It is not an ideal pitch. India would also have been in trouble if England had scored 200 in their first innings. But it (the pitch) is the same for both sides,” said the 40-year-old off-spinner.

Two-time World cup winner – Yuvraj Singh also expressed his views on the pitch after 17 wickets fell on Day 2 of the day-night Test. He took a sly dig at the nature of the pitch and said he isn’t sure if such surfaces are good for Test cricket. Yuvraj added that had the likes of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh bowled on the pitches which we have seen in the ongoing India vs England Test series, they would’ve taken 1,000 and 800 wickets respectively.

“Finished in 2 days Not sure if that’s good for test cricket !If @anilkumble1074 and @harbhajan_singh bowled on these kind of wickets they would be sitting on a thousand and 800? However congratulations to India @akshar2026 what a spell! congratulations @ashwinravi99 @ImIshant,” Yuvraj tweeted.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan mocked the Motera surface in a tweet. “If we are going to see these pitches … I have an answer to how it could work … Give the Teams 3 innings !!! #INDvENG,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar said the overtly defensive mindset of the batsmen was responsible for their dismissals in the third Test as most of them got out to straighter deliveries. The batting maestro, who was commentating during the third Test, believes that batsmen need to use the depth of the crease to tackle spin bowling and that is where the footwork comes into play. With such decks proving to be the test of batsmen’s skill, the ones who could score runs on these are the real batsmen.

“You need to use the depth of your crease (to tackle spin). So, there comes your footwork. On fast bouncy pitches it is more a matter of your courage. These kinds of pitches, it is a test of your skill. Which is the reason the batsmen who can score runs on these pitches, are the real batsmen,” Gavaskar said in commentary.

Interestingly, England batting legend Geoffrey Boycott said that it was a simple case of India being better than England. “There is nothing in the rules that says what type of pitch should be prepared. We had first choice of the surface and they were better than us. Simple,” the former England captain said in a tweet.

With the fourth and final Test of the series also scheduled to be held at the same venue, it would be interesting to observe the nature of the pitch going forward.